Rwanda, or the Republic of Rwanda, is a landlocked country of 26,338 square kilometers, located in eastern central Africa, in the African Great Lakes region. Water comprises 5.3% of the total area of the country. One of the smallest countries on the African mainland, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As of 2012, it has a population of 10,515,973 people and a population growth of 2.8% per year. The population was estimated to be 11,262,564 in 2015. Rwanda has the highest population density in Africa, rendering it vulnerable to the deleterious effects of climate change, particularly considering the country’s reliance on rain-fed agriculture among the rural population and for its exports of tea and coffee. The Municipality of Kigali, Rwanda’s Capital and largest city, serves as a provincial-level authority and coordinates urban planning within the city. The city has a population of around one million, which is rapidly increasing and thereby introducing infrastructural challenges. The second largest city, Gisenyi, has a population of 126,000, and all other cities have populations of less than 100,000. The urban population accounts for less than 15% of the overall population of Rwanda (National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, 2012).
Rwanda’s economy suffered following the 1994 genocide, but has strengthened in the past decades; between 2001 and 20014, per capita income tripled from $211 USD to $718 USD (4th Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey, 2013/14). However, Rwanda has experienced increased temperatures at a rate higher than the global average (1.4 degrees celsius since 1970), causing extreme weather events that endanger the lives and livelihoods of the population. While climate change has decreased the number of rainy days per year, Rwanda experiences more frequent torrential rains. The elevated Western and Northern Provinces see increasing floods and landslides; the Eastern Province has been plagued with droughts (Rwanda baseline climate change vulnerability index, 2015). Rain variability will continue to cause crop losses, proliferation of disease, reduced land availability and damage to infrastructure.
Rwanda has been committed to addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation since ratifying the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1998 and the Kyoto Protocol in 2003. After submitting an Initial and Second National Communication to the UNFCCC in 2005 and 2012, respectively, Rwanda is currently preparing a Third National Communication. Based on the Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy, projections for Rwanda in 2015 see the country with a low carbon economy, low unemployment rates and low levels of poverty. Developments in low carbon domestic energy resources in practices aim to reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil and strengthen its sustainable services sector. Rwanda’s long-term vision in building its climate resilient economy includes the development of Green industry, the implementation of sustainable land use and preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems, and the reduction of health and disaster risks. These actions have been outlined in Rwanda’s Green Growth and Climate Resilient Strategy (2011) and are slated to be fulfilled by 2050.
Policy Process in Rwanda
The Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, has held office since 2000 and could remain in power until 2034. The President is endowed with broad powers and maintains control over the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has maintained dominance over other political parties since 1994, with control over the presidency and the parliament; human rights organizations note that the government is prone to suppressing the political freedoms of oppositional groups.
The Republic of Rwanda and the Ministry of Natural Resources jointly monitor and evaluate the implementation of NDCs. Stakeholders are regularly consulted through, for instance, Environment and Natural Resources Joint Sector Review meetings. The Ministry of Natural Resources (MINIRENA) formulates and monitors national policies on climate change and the environment, while the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) is responsible for implementing climate change strategies. MINIRENA and REMA collaborate with the private sector and public institutions who may serve as potential stakeholders.
Rwanda is a member of the United Nations, African Union, Francophonie, East African Community, and the Commonwealth of Nations. The country participates in international emissions reduction initiatives including the mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs).
Mobility in Kigali
The Rwandan transport system consists primarily of road networks which link Kigali with other major cities and towns within the country, as well as with neighboring countries. 12,000 kilometers of roads exist in Rwanda, 1,000 kilometers of which are paved. The main form of public transportation throughout Rwanda and in Kigali is the minibus system, which runs both scheduled and unscheduled services according to a shared taxi system. In 2013, there were 9,609 registered motorcycle taxis and 579 registered taxicabs in Rwanda (MININFRA 2013). Kigali has an international airport, and since 2017 construction has been underway on the Bugesera International Airport, which is located approximately 40 kilometers to the south of Kigali and will be Rwanda’s largest airport. While the country currently has no railways, it is possible that the Tanzanian Central Line will be extended into Rwanda through a joint effort with Burundi and Tanzania. Public transport is shifting from small minibus services to larger city busses. A master plan for Kigali’s development, slated to be carried out by 2040, calls for construction of new business districts as well as green spaces, in addition to a robust public transportation system.
Rwanda is experiencing a rapid growth in the number of vehicles in the country, By 2030, the annual increase in vehicles will reach 16.5% from the current 12%, and light-duty vehicles (equipped with post-1998 three-way catalytic converters) will increase by 20%. To avoid or combat the attendant rise in GHG emissions, Rwanda will construct a central bus terminal in Kigali, implement route optimization, introduce solar-panelled street lighting and traffic controls, and introduce new emissions standards for vehicles. These steps, among others, will allow Rwanda to reduce GHG emissions by an estimated 1,260,000 tCO2e in the coming decades.