The weeklong conference that was held at NIRDA Huye Research Centre in Huye District brought together experts, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners from across the world. It ended on Friday 17 November 2023.
Experts, researchers, policy makers, architects, engineers, and carpenters convened, engaging in practical workshops to enhance their understanding of modern bamboo construction techniques.
Participants acquired hands-on skills in Bamboo joinery and bamboo mechanical properties, Bamboo wall and bamboo durability as well as Bamboo beams and bamboo roofs as well as working with laminated bamboo among others.
Participants also discussed what could be the best techniques and requirements to promote bamboo and use it in the construction sector.
Speaking on behalf of NIRDA during the conference on Thursday, Telesphore Mugwiza, Division Manager for Applied Research and Development, underscored the need to advocate for bamboo adoption in Rwanda’s construction industry, citing its potential to create sustainable, locally sourced structures.
He said that NIRDA advocates for the incorporation of various bamboo species in the country, emphasizing knowledge sharing and skill development to boost bamboo usage in construction.
"The focus was put on practical workshops and presentations to equip local actors with the skills and insights needed to embrace bamboo as a key player in the construction industry," said Mugwiza,
"Over the past days, the focus was put on practical workshops and presentations to equip local actors with the skills and insights needed to embrace bamboo as a key player in the construction industry," said Mugwiza.
The conference, themed "A Step towards Sustainable Green Architecture," saw collaboration between NIRDA, Belgian Development Agency (Enabel) in Rwanda, and Racines de France.
Richard Niwenshuti, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, commended NIRDA and Enabel for organizing such an important international conference on bamboo for construction stressing that it was an opportunity for local actors to learn from global experts.
He said that research revealed that bamboo can be a good source for construction materials which are sustainable, affordable and environment friendly.
“Bamboo’s status as a renewable material and carbon sink makes it a true green gold,” he said.
“It offers sustainable alternatives to conventional construction materials like wood, cement, concrete, steel, and fiberglass. As a local and renewable resource, bamboo has the power to significantly reduce the ecological footprint of our buildings, a crucial step for an industry known for its environmental impact,” he added.
The official added that by embracing bamboo, Rwanda aligns itself with ambitious development, climate, and environmental goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals, Reducing deforestation and forest degradation targets (REDD+), Paris Agreement commitments, and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
In 2022, Enabel, NIRDA, and Racine de France established the Center of Excellence for Bamboo at NIRDA’s Research Centre in Huye district focusing on transforming construction methods and reducing environmental impact.
"This center holds the promise of transformative change, leveraging technology and innovation around bamboo to provide an alternative to traditional construction methods," said Niwenshuti.
Niwenshuti added that the government of Rwanda has identified three key categories for bamboo development: oriented strand board, plywood, and medium density fiberboard (MDF).
"Collaboration between research institutions, public entities, academia, and industry players is essential to advance the variety of bamboo species suitable for construction," highlighted Niwenshuti.
Niwenshuti stressed the importance of quality control, standards in bamboo processing, and collaboration among research institutions, public entities, academia, and industry players.
"It is our collective responsibility to ensure that bamboo products meet the necessary standards, fostering a sustainable and reliable industry," said Niwenshuti.
Laurent Preud’homme, Deputy Head of Mission and Head of Cooperation at the Embassy of Belgium to Rwanda, praised Enabel’s support in developing various Made in Rwanda construction materials.
"It offers sustainable alternatives to conventional construction materials like wood, cement, concrete, steel, and fiberglass," emphasized Preud’homme.
Participants lauded the conference for providing practical skills and insights into bamboo’s versatile applications in the construction sector.
"With a grasp of its properties, we can engineer secure structures resistant to strong winds and earthquakes, and when sourced locally, bamboo can also contribute to a sustainable, local economy for rural communities," emphasized Pierre Boucher, a Structural Engineer from France specialized in Timber and Bamboo.
"Bamboo’s strength, rapid growth, and numerous environmental benefits make it an ideal building material, allowing us to diminish the environmental impact of the construction industry and sequester CO2," explained Pierre Boucher.