Rwanda: Kigali today

Travelling along the main road from Uganda to Kigali, you skirt along the edge of valleys with rice, sugar cane, tea and banana crops covering the valley floor. The hill sides are lush with vegetation and all this which leads to a sense of well managed agriculture in the fertile soil. The roads are empty and in almost perfect condition -except where there are roadworks, making the roads perfect! Gliding along the asphalt, enjoying the meandering road, i could be in the Swiss Alps on a warm summers day. 15km from of Kigali i start to see the glimpses of the capital. Appearing like the Emerald City, Kigali’s tall multi-story glass offices appearing over the top of the surrounding hills.

Entering Kigali, there is traffic, but it is flowing. I start to notice there is something different to the other African capitals i’ve been to. The traffic lights i’m sitting at have a count-down next to each signal, so you know how much longer you have until it’s red or before it’s green. The curbs and pavement are in great condition with alternate curb stones painted black and while. The main roads are lines with trees and young palm trees, giving the promise of shade when they mature. At road junctions, there are police in highly visible jackets, occasionally stepping into the road, blowing their whistle and directing traffic when things snarl up. There are many modern glass fronted shops and offices behind high metal fences flanked by security guards and manicured lawns. I come across a marker in the pavement identifying that there is a fibre-optic cable below. The Rwandan governments program: Vision 2020, to make Rwanda a middle income country with a united populous by 2020. In this vision, Kigali is to become the high-technology powerhouse of Rwanda and this appears to be coming to fruition.

The strong police presence changes from unarmed to armed with semi-automatic weapons as nighttime approaches. You feel safe walking along the well lit capitals streets at night greeting people as they walk by. The coloured cats-eyes even light up at night, creating a runway effect on the main streets. The clean, regular and cheap busses are organised by colour and have route numbers on the front. They make a safer alternate to the motorcycle taxis who at least wear their plastic helmets and have one for passenger use.

Talking to people is easy, though i avoid discussing politics and the genocide. Many people speak English which became the official language 5 years ago. The people i met are positive about the future of Rwanda and want to move on from the Genocide. It looks like the groundwork is in place to allow this to happen.

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