The City of Kigali offered three months as the prior notice deadline to relocate for businesses and nonprofit entities working from residential buildings all around Kigali.
Parfait Busabizwa, the City vice mayor in charge of economic development, said the move aims at promoting efficient, secure and hygienic working environment.
He added that it is also in line with implementing the City Master Plan to ensure that every building serves the purpose for which it was built.
“We realised that some buildings which were built for a family of six members accommodate businesses. There is not enough space, no security, no hygiene and this means they can hardly offer quality services,” Busabizwa explained.
“If living rooms are turned into offices, it is not easy to operate. We have new buildings which have been erected with all necessary requirements, and we encourage people to vacate and move to those buildings meant for commercial purposes,” he added.
The City Master Plan, which has been in place for the last few years, has clear zoning guidelines that show what areas are for commercial, residential or dual purposes, and what kinds of businesses can operate from specific areas.
The implementation of the master plan was delayed after it emerged that there were not sufficient commercial properties. However, now that more commercial properties have sprung up across Kigali, City officials want the guidelines respected.
While the directive has generated a lot of debate, with some arguing that rental costs of commercial buildings are exorbitant, City officials say there are cheaper options available and it is imperative that properties are used for the purpose for which they were constructed.
The move is good news for investors in commercial properties who have complained of low levels of occupancy and for people looking for more affordable homes to live in, as the prices have gone up due to demand from businesses and nonprofit organisations.