Promoting Evidence–based Governance: The City Of Kigali Example

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Today, I will look for an example of open and transparent governance model that will guide me in evaluating state transparency and providing Nigerian States and government agencies examples to emulate. I got numerous calls, comments and emails most indicating interest to follow closely the ranking, some say performance of States in the State Transparency Index. To avoid disappointment, I have to state unequivocally that the index is not a critic of states or agencies but a nudge to open up governance and encourage public participation.

The index is designed to capture where we are and point to where we should be. That said, let us begin the journey to other climes where governments are making effort to develop strategic goals, create systems, prioritise stakeholder interactions and hold employees accountable for results.

Close to us in Africa and in a post-conflict society we have Kigali the capital of Rwanda. Rwanda is a landlocked country which gained independence from Belgium in 1959. Over three decades Rwanda has been embroiled in a civil war and state sponsored genocide against the Tutsis. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) website in 1999 the democratic process began with local elections culminating in the first post – genocide presidential elections in 2003.

The Rwandan government embraced expansionary fiscal policy to reduce poverty by improving education, Infrastructure, and foreign and domestic investment, and pursuing market–oriented reforms. Rwandan reforms have been widely acclaimed and in recognition of successful management of its macro economy the IMF graduated Rwanda to a Policy Support Instrument in 2010 as reported by the CIA website.

The city of Kigali’s GDP of $1.5 billion ranks it below Yobe state’s $2 billion GDP, which is the least in Nigeria. Notwithstanding its small population and GDP, Kigali was chosen as one of the six case studies of economically successful cities under the Competitive Cities Knowledge Base Initiative of the World Bank . The objective of the research initiative is to create a knowledge base on competitive cities. The six successful cities, Bucaramanga, Colombia; Coimbatore, India; Kigali, Rwanda; Gaziantep, Turkey; Changsha, China; and Tangier, Morocco had certain traits that underpinned their success.

Successful cities prioritised provision of infrastructure and municipal services as necessary to attract and retain investment. They streamlined bureaucracy. Issuance of permits and licenses were simplified and expedited and some services enabled online. The cities offered an environment conducive for business formation and growth while using dialogue and solid fact base to anchor their priorities, thus minimising capture and market distortion.

The use of strategic planning and stakeholder engagement aligned with strong implementation framework was widespread among successful cities. These cities have varied national government models ranging from centralised unitary, decentralised unitary to centralised monarchy to decentralised federal republic.

The city of Kigali has a very rich website . According to the city’s website City of Kigali is made up of three districts namely Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge. It is presently inhabited by approximately 1 million inhabitants. Kigali is 70 per cent rural with a population which is relatively young- the youth make up about 60 per cent and women make slightly more than 50 per cent. Its Vision Statement “Our vision is to make City of Kigali a safer, cleaner, and more competitive, modern city with expanding opportunity for sustainable development of its citizens and the country at large. Our identity is “Better Service Delivery”

The city of Kigali plans to achieve its vision through a Mission Statement by being: – A modern city proving quality; Be warm and hospitable to residents and visitors; An engine of national economic growth; Uphold the good image of the country and enhance regional and international cooperation. The city has a toll free line 3260 for citizen engagement. On the website the city has its GIS Masterplan 2013 and conceptual Master Plan allowing citizens to know zoning plans and reduce administrative discretion in change of purpose and allocation process.

The city of Kigali has a City Development Plan 2013/2014 – 2017/2018 with clear priorities aligned with the Rwandan Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EPDRS) 1 which ended in 2012 and provided the basis for EPDRS 2 to guide the country’s medium – term development aspirations. The country’s EDPRS 2 will provide priorities for public spending, together with key performance targets, projected financing and needs as well as monitoring and evaluation plans.

The city of Kigali development plan is one of the components of EDPRS 2 which has as its overall objective the increase of quality of life of all Rwandans through; rapid and sustainable economic growth (11.5 per cent per annum) and accelerated poverty reduction (to below 30 per cent). The city of Kigali, in its plan, records average poverty level in the city at 14.8 per cent and the target is to reduce it to below 10 per cent in the next five years. The city through consultative meetings identified top priorities which will translate the city into a city of character, vibrant economy, affordable homes, excellence in all, among other characteristics.

An example of the city plan in the transport sector tells the story succinctly. The city notes that only 24 per cent of its population takes less than 20 minutes to get to a stage for public transport; over 70 per cent of commuters walk long distances to access public transport. This scenario, the city notes, translates to not only high transport costs but also high transit time increasing the cost of living in the city with direct effect on urban poverty.

To reverse this situation, the city’s five-year plan sets the following targets, 30km of new asphalt roads will be constructed; 100km of stone paved roads will be constructed; 29.5km of asphalt roads will be rehabilitated; 17km along the major public transport corridors will be expanded; 3 pedestrian bridges will be erected amongst others.

Kigali’s 2013/2014 Action Plan details the evaluation metrics that keeps the government accountable. Citizens can track progress of the City’s Development Plan through a spread sheet that outlines outcome, programme, output, indicator, baseline, target, activities, priority status, stakeholders and budget. From this spreadsheet e can see that the transport plan goal of building 100km of stone paved roads is on track to deliver 25km in year one.

Employment by the city is very transparent, on the website we see the advertisements, the full list of those shortlisted and the final results for staff recruitment exercise. The final result includes the names of the candidates, scores in the written and oral tests, and total score.

The city publishes its annual performance contract and quarterly progress report to update citizens on status of projects. A 2014 quarterly update shows that of 36 planned activities, 15 (42 per cent) were done, 15 (42 per cent) were ongoing and 6 (16 per cent) were not done.

The outcome of open transparent government in Kigali has been impressive, according to the competitive cities initiative, businesses in Kigali once needed 125 days to receive construction permit, today businesses receive permit in 30 days. Cities that made commitment to advertising public sector jobs and procurement contracts reduced graft, enhanced public trust and social capital.

Next week we will evaluate Kwara state, using online information, along the four dimensions of the State Transparency Index.



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