Kigali Innovation City project brought to limelight at GITEX Africa Summit

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 1 June 2023 at 11:04

Rwanda has shared the vision of Kigali Innovation City (KIC) at the GITEX Africa Summit. This flagship government program is strategically designed to foster a thriving ecosystem focused on high-tech advancements, innovation, and talent development, thereby propelling Rwanda’s transition into a knowledge-based economy.

Rwanda’s ambitious targets to leverage technology to build resilient smart cities were shared by Tessy Rusagara, the Managing Director of Kigali Innovation City during a panel discussion on the summit’s second day.

The session centered around harnessing smart solutions and digitization to enhance urban resilience and sustainability. Rusagara was joined by Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem responsible for foreign relations, international economic development, and tourism, as well as policymakers from Morocco and other countries.

Spanning across 61 hectares in the Special Economic Zone, KIC will be a dynamic work-live-play community that integrates world-class universities, Grade A offices, residential and student housing, retail facilities, and business hotels. This visionary project is founded upon an innovative and environmentally conscious smart city concept.

Several key infrastructures within the city are already operational, including Cooper Pharma, Carnegie Mellon University, and African Leadership University. To further develop the necessary ecosystem within the Kigali Special Economic Zone, the project has attracted Africa50, a pan-African infrastructure investment firm, as a co-developer alongside the government of Rwanda.

Africa50 and the Rwanda Development Board are jointly investing in the early-stage development activities, aiming to enhance the project’s bankability and attract additional strategic sponsors and co-investors.

During her engagement with summit participants, Rusagara emphasized that the 61-hectare development is exclusively dedicated to technology and innovation. She highlighted the collaborative investment between the government and Africa50, an infrastructure investment platform, with the primary objective of providing physical and soft infrastructure to foster technology and innovation.

Rusagara further emphasized the importance of cultivating a talented workforce, stating that Rwanda’s initial focus lies in nurturing the pool of individuals capable of creating and maintaining technological solutions.

Integral to the KIC project are the world-class universities within the site, attracting pan-African talent in engineering, leadership, and business. The goal is to equip the country with the skills required not only for government and private sector employment but also for entrepreneurial endeavors and creating solutions necessary for the digital revolution.

"In addition to this project, we have numerous ecosystem activities within the government to support the growth of technology and innovation, including funding and various programs," added Rusagara.

Rwanda is actively working on bolstering smart solutions and digitization across different sectors, ensuring that technology positively impacts the lives of its citizens.

The government’s proactive approach in leading the integration of technology into citizen services has been instrumental in driving Rwanda’s digitization efforts. Rusagara also acknowledged the significant contribution of the private sector, which has played a crucial role in advancing the digitization of various services, such as healthcare, transportation, and taxation. This concerted effort is laying a solid foundation for the development of a truly digital city.

Held in Marrakech, the Red City, the inaugural Gitex Africa Summit attracted over 900 tech companies, startups, government entities, and participants from more than 100 countries. The summit, running from May 31st to June 2nd, presented a diverse range of innovative solutions across sectors like health, agriculture, and artificial intelligence.

GITEX Africa 2023, with participation from over 100 government entities representing 80 countries, is poised to stimulate multiple investment pledges and public-private partnerships, driving forward Africa’s digital transformation initiatives and accelerating the continent.

Tessy Rusagara (second from right) taking GITEX Africa participants through Rwanda's ambitious Kigali Innovation City project.