Satellite towns: What is the particularity of Muhanga, Nyamata and Rwamagana? | New times

Three towns neighboring the city of Kigali – Muhanga, Nyamata and Rwamagana – have the potential to grow and support the capital’s dynamic population pressure in terms of socio-economic development, an official said. New times.

According to Alexis Rutagengwa, head of the land use management and mapping department at the Rwanda Land Use and Management Authority (RLMUA), the three have been classified as satellite towns by the new national master plan of land use and development 2020-2050. Muhanga, which previously belonged to the category of secondary cities, was promoted to the status of satellite city.

Satellite cities are, according to urban planning experts, a relatively new development. These are smaller municipalities adjacent to a large city, like Kigali in the case of Rwanda, which is the core of a metropolis. Their characteristics include low construction density, high environmental quality and separation from the city center.

Esther Ndacyayisenga, urban planner and real estate professional, examines the purpose of satellite towns in a number of ways, including: curbing the expansion of the city of Kigali; promote economic activities in these satellite towns; distribution of power and economic development to these cities; better and balanced management of urbanization and growth; and better use of land and other resources.

She added: “I think the concept is gaining ground due to the current high rate of urbanization. Therefore, strategic interventions are needed to ensure that the country makes the most of the positive consequences of urbanization. “

The main objective of the establishment of satellite towns is to disperse the population and industry from the main towns and to alleviate the living problems of the inhabitants of the large towns. The goal, among other things, is to create affordable housing for a large part of society.

The term satellite cities, said Rutagengwa, is a new category in the hierarchy of how urban planning in Rwanda is conceptualized and the three cities “form what is called a golden triangle” of satellite cities around the city. capital city.

“This type of urbanization planning also exists in many other advanced countries around the world,” he said.

Asked why the trio enjoys what appears to be a special status, Rutagengwa said that “projections show that all three are growing, in terms of population development and urbanization, more than the others. , given their proximity to the capital.

Their respective populations are expected to grow between 650,000 and one million.

“This requires special attention for their planning and implementation control. “


Rutagengwa said the three cities already have strategic investments in the pipeline that will support their economic growth.

The investments he referred to include large projects such as the ongoing construction of the new Nyamata International Airport in Bugesera district.

The government hopes the $ 400 million airport could be ready for operation by 2023.

Nyamata is also home to the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA), a college that is part of multi-million dollar farming initiatives funded by American philanthropist Howard G. Buffett.

“Trade, transport and tourism will be the main drivers of Bugesera (Nyamata) due to the new international airport. As a planned satellite city, construction, infrastructure services and high technology will also be essential. The growth of the financial sector will be inevitable, ”said Rutagengwa.


Muhanga, which was previously classified as a secondary town, is about 45 kilometers south of Kigali. It has growth potentials in mining, commerce, industry, tourism and logistics.

Work under the Rwanda Urban Development Project (RUDP), an ongoing project funded by the World Bank to provide better roads; street lighting and drainage systems have given the city a facelift. Among others, three big investors – Mountain Ceramic (clay tile makers), Seven Hills (pot makers) and Basil Company (cleaning equipment) – are looking to build industries.

“A special industrial and economic zone, improved road infrastructure, mine processing plants, etc. are ongoing, ”Rutagengwa said.

“The driving sector for Muhanga will be mining, trade and logistics. Due to its consideration as a satellite city, infrastructure services and construction will be on the rise.


Rwamagana, located about 50 kilometers northeast of Kigali, also has special industrial and economic zones, improved road infrastructure, hills in addition to swamp irrigation projects.

At least 16 large projects are expected to play an important role in the development of Rwamagana during the implementation of the updated 2021-2050 master plan. The projects include the modernization of the Rwamagana district hospital, the food market buildings, the rehabilitation of roads and the establishment of a transport hub to connect Uswahilini, one of the old Rwamagana markets, in the Central Business District (CBD).

There are also plans to install a planetarium, a theater built primarily to present educational and entertaining shows on astronomy, in the city.

Rutagengwa said, “Rwamagana is developing a large manufacturing center. As a satellite city, more constructions and related infrastructure developments will be expected. Commercial farming and processing will be equally important as the district has soils suitable for agriculture.

As indicated, the land use master plans of the satellite towns covering all the respective districts are being drawn up to ensure intelligent, balanced and balanced development.

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