It has become a hub for tourism: How taxes contributed to rapid development of Musanze over the past 25 years

By Zaninka Umutesi
On 11 October 2022 at 02:09

In the past, some people would consider tax payments as a heavy blow to their businesses that they sometimes ran away from tax collectors.

As a result some businesses evaded taxes yet paying dues to the national treasury serves as the foundation for many development activities.

It is possible that a person may be wondering how the taxes benefit them, but the truth is that evading taxes would see many activities going awry.

This article will focus on the development of the Musanze District over the past 25 years since Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) took over tax collection duties.

The Government of Rwanda allocates the budget to districts for various development activities. Part of the funds is utilized to address some of citizens’ concerns with a large portion derived from taxes.

Areas of focus include construction of roads, schools, health facilities, hospitals, business centers (workshops), markets, access to water and electricity as well.

Musanze is among districts where such development activities have considerably transformed residents’’ livelihoods.

Kinigi Model Village

Built by the Rwandan Army, Kinigi Model Village is located 12 kilometers from Musanze Town. It is consisted of multi-storey buildings built for 144 needy families.

The modern village has all the basic infrastructure such as water, hospitals, schools and recreational areas.

Each family accommodated in these houses is provided with basic furniture including mattresses, beds, chairs and televisions.

The construction of Kinigi Model Village cost Rwf26.6 billion, of which nearly Rwf8 billion was allocated for the construction of residential houses, Rwf1.5 billion for the construction of a health center and Rwf3.3 billion for the construction of schools and childcare center.

Buying 102 cows and 8000 chickens for the families living in this village, building a shed, business center workshop, planting gardens and fruit trees cost Rwf1.8 billion while other works such as roads, electricity, planting trees and expropriation cost more than Rwf11 billion.

Residents settled down in this village told IGIHE that they are glad for the support extended to them where their livelihoods have improved significantly.

The Head Teacher of Kampanga High School built in this village, Jean de Dieu Twagirimana said they are happy that President Paul Kagame walks the talk.

"We thank the President of the Republic because he fulfills promises. Having a school like this with all equipment in the countryside, is beyond one’s imagination and evidences how the country has expended much effort in different areas of development," he said.

Since 2016, 82 modern villages have been built. Five of them including Rweru, Kazirankara-Nyundo, Horezo-Kanyenyeri, Karama, and Gishuro were inaugurated by President Kagame.

Schools’ development and upgrade of IPRC Musanze

Education is among areas that received attention in Musanze District where each sector has primary and secondary schools.

It has more than 400 classrooms that cost more than Rwf1.8 billion.

The government and development partners managed to upgrade the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center (IPRC) in Musanze, which capacitated it to open doors for more children.

The topography of Musanze, building block of development

Musanze is one of the five regions that make up the Northern Province. It has the uniqueness of being a tourist destination over the presence volcanoes and other touristic attractions.

This region is considered as the hub for tourism in the country Rwanda, and is the district most visited by tourists.

They are mainly attracted by the Volcano Park which is home to mountain gorillas, Buhanga Eco-park as well as the volcanoes of Muhabura, Gahinga, Kalisimbi, Bisoke and Sabyinyo.

Musanze is one of the six secondary cities and has been equipped with various infrastructures luring tourists to prolong their stay. These include hotels and other leisure activities.

In addition to the main commercial buildings upgraded day-to-day, Musanze town has high-end hotels that welcome tourists from all walks of life.

Among the largest hotels in the city there is Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House built at a cost of $25 million; The One & Only Gorilla’s Nest is built in Kinigi in a tropical forest, a volcanic area, and Bisate Lodge.

Among other large-scale projects, an industrial zone has been set up. The latter accommodates Prime Cement Factory while plans are underway to set up an assembling facility for Volkswagen cars.

Musanze’s development is mainly rooted on tourism related investment.

Figures released in 2019 show that the area is home to more than 30 hotels, while other major economic activities include potato farming and animal husbandry among others.

The Mayor of Musanze District, Janvier Ramuli, said that safety, decent roads, electricity and magnificent buildings are among other factors that attract visitors as they add up to many reasons to stay comfortably in a particular place.

Over the past 25 years, Musanze has developed infrastructure including roads - given that the district is has over 80 kilometers of tarmac roads, hotels and commercial buildings such as modern markets and residential houses.

The statistics show that Musanze District had a few development activities in the last 25 years but have increased at large scale.

Through taxes, the district has become a tourist destination and models rapid development.

The taxes collected in Musanze District have been increasing as years go by.

Statistics from Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) show that Musanze District collected Rwf6.7 billion in taxes in 2014/2015 which increased to Rwf14.5 billion in 2021/2022.

Among the works carried out include the construction of 76 kilometers of tarmac roads and other feeder roads.

90% of the population has access to water, while 51,117 households have access to the main-grid while others use renewable sources of energy.

25 years ago, the district had no decent market but has got a five-storey modern market, as well as business center workshops that have been constructed to promote jobs’ creation.

Currently, Musanze has 23 factories including Prime Cement. It has also built a modern bus terminal.

With the majority of the population forcing their meal upon agriculture, Musanze registers 38,000 hectares of arable land.

More than 350 cooperatives bringing together residents involved in different activities including agriculture, handicrafts, tourism and others have bene established and contribute in no small part to members’ livelihoods transformation.

25 years ago, the district had 33 nursery schools but have increased to 113.

Primary schools have also increased from 87 to 109, the number of secondary schools went up from 11 to 71 while universities increased from four to seven.

Some of these schools are owned by the government, partners or members of the private sector.

As for the health sector, the district has Ruhengeri Hospital which has undergone major facelift, 16 health centers and 32 health posts.

The taxes collected in Musanze District have been increasing as years go by.