Rwanda: Economic Opportunities in Kigali's Wetlands

9 February 2021

As the government continues to mobilize funds to invest in recreational wetlands in Kigali City, Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) has committed to encourage ecotourism investments among the private sector.

Different recreational wetlands are expected to generate revenues once developed.

Doing Business has looked into some wetlands and how their conservation could generate or are generating revenues.

Nyandungu wetland

Among the wetlands where biodiversity conservation could generate revenues is Nyandungu wetland connecting the sectors of Nyarugunga of Kicukiro District and Ndera of Gasabo District where an ecotourism park is being created, 130 hectares.

Theogene Ngaboyamahina, the Environmental Mainstreaming Officer at REMA said, last week, during wetland day celebrations that the construction works are at 72 percent and are set to be complete in May, 2021.

The urban park is being created to increase and conserve biodiversity, create green jobs, manage pollution and reduce floods.

The Ecotourism Park will feature walkways, cycling routes, boardwalks and bridges, nature viewing areas, bird hides, kiosks and picnic areas among other facilities that a modern park would have.

Initial projections indicated that the park should generate over Rwf1 billion profit in the first 12 years of operation.

The park will offer several revenue streams including entry fees using differential pricing whereby visitors will be charged for entry to the park, guiding fees where visitors can choose to employ a freelance guide for the guide to earn an income while some areas in the park will be offered for wedding photos for a fee.

They also include ground rent on restaurant /café whereby a site in the park will be offered as a concession and the restaurant / café then pay a ground rent to the park.

Sale of native plant species is another revenue stream as gardeners working at the site will grow native species of trees and other plants that will be offered for sale to visitors and others.

The revenue sources again include entertainment and cultural events.

The park may choose to rent out areas of the park for events, providing that they fit the ethos of the park.

REMA is set to work with Rwanda Development Board for a long-term management plan.

Gikondo wetland

The green and environmentally friendly Gikondo Recreational Park is being developed in the former Gikondo industrial park.

On one part of the wetland, gardens with green lawns, colorful indigenous tree species and refreshment facilities have been established.

Different species of indigenous trees such as sycamore trees, acacia trees have been planted as well as small ponds of waters with paths designed for pedestrians coming for sightseeing.

Kiosks from which different products can be sold such as refreshments and snacks for people will be set up to generate revenues.

Other facilities such as benches and chairs around swimming pools, showers and washing rooms, bicycles lanes, seats, Public Park, lights and sites for photography among many others are expected.

In order to fully restore the wetland, Gikondo is among the wetlands that are part of $175 million (approx. Rwf173bn) project to green the city and rehabilitate wetlands.

The wetlands to be rehabilitated include Gikondo, Nyabugogo, Rugenge, Kibumba, Rwintare, and Rugunga.

Umusambi village

Already, players like Olivier Nsengimana, a renowned conservationist, have revamped a popular wetland formerly called Bambino Super-city along the Kigali-Rwamagana road, into a nature reserve for wild crowned cranes.

Umusambi Village is a beautifully restored wetland area, providing a sanctuary for over 70 endangered Grey Crowned Cranes saved from the illegal pet trade from private gardens around Kigali and other parts.

Umusambi Village is a beautifully restored wetland area, providing a sanctuary for over 70 endangered Grey Crowned Cranes. Photo: Olivier Mugwiza.

The village is a 21-hectare nature reserve, the first of its kind in Kigali that will allow visitors to enjoy walking trails while learning about the importance of protecting natural environments.

Last week, Nsengimana said that during peak seasons, the village is visited by about 4,000 visitors per month.

Sunday Park

The wetland separates the affluent neighbourhood of Nyarutarama and Kacyiru in the Gasabo sector, opposite to the golf course.

According to the developers, the wetland had been polluted with waste.

The park has gardens, small lakes, a mini-golf course, a nature park and an art exhibition that conserve biodiversity and attract tourists.

It has tree species that attract birds which are rare in Kigali city.

The birds help in conservation education in schools and different research.

The place has a an event site which members of the public can use for weddings, picnics, birthday parties, wedding photo shoots, shooting music videos as well as wedding proposals.

Parents also come with their children to play in the scenic gardens while others can do fishing in the small lakes.

Every person is charged Rwf5, 000 while those who come for photo shoots pay an extra Rwf60,000.

According to a new law that governs biological diversity and wildlife in Rwanda, whose draft was approved by the cabinet in October 2020, private companies seeking to venture into wildlife conservation for commercial gain will now be allowed to do so.

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