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National Physical Development PLAN (NPDP)  2040
Prepared 2016-2019


Professional Team:

  • Prof. Yigal Tzamir, Team leader

  • Dr. Charles Koojo, Local team leader and Environmentalist

  • Amanda Ngabirano, Communication expert

  • Amit Epstein, GIS Expert

  • Rom Transportation, Infrastructure Consultants

  • Christopher Cripps, Planner, Ministry of lands Representative

  • Moses Sebunia, Social Scientist

  • Tzamir Architects and planners Professional team , Israel

Uganda’s long-awaited first National Physical Development Plan (NPDP), comes from a background of its modern Physical Planning systems, which originated in the construction of trading and administrative centers during the pre-independence period.  It is cited in the National Land Use, Urban and other Policies, and required by the Physical Planning Act 2010. It has parallels with physical and spatial frameworks that have been prepared an increasing number of countries, national and transnational bodies. 

NPDP 1.bmp

The National Physical structure and  National infrastructure corridors


To facilitate the smooth integration of the physical and spatial, with the social and economic aspects of development planning, the NPDP has been organized around the “Pillars” of Uganda’s Vision 2040 and the sequence of five year National Development Plans which are used to govern the country.  The NPDP limits itself to the physical components of national development planning and avails itself as a tool for the consideration of the “spatial’ alongside the other economic and social aspects of development planning.

The NPDP base population and urbanization growth targets on the projection that the urban population is likely to double from 20% to 40% by 2040 and  Total population will be 75 M assuming annual average growth rate of 2.75% along the next 22 years.




NPDP Concept:

The NPDP is drawn around Strategic Agricultural Zones, as well as the identified bio-regions, recognizing that these are key elements for long-term growth and sustainability. At the same time, the NPDP adopts the connectivity corridors that mark urban development along with a national “Triangle” of expressways that optimize the development of infrastructures and expressways based on three main arteries.

The polycentric settlement system is adopted. It seeks to limit the expansion of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area in favor of planned urbanization along the corridors.  These follow the Secondary Agricultural Zones that become the target locations for regional urban growth.

Locations for Agri-Urban (AGUR) blocks within these Secondary Agricultural Zones are recommended to be used to soften the urban/rural divide by creating hubs for agricultural industries, biotechnologies, and value-added small and medium enterprises. This combination strengthens the presently dominant agricultural sector by modernizing it and complementing it with a strong industrial sector, particularly regarding added value to existing natural resources.

The precise boundaries of these Zones and Blocks will be defined by Physical Development Plans at Regional and Local Government levels.

The NPDP allows all levels of the system to coexist. With the overall aim of consolidating the pattern of sprawling rural settlement into consolidated blocks to allow for the consolidation of land.  This is a huge challenge, considering the 82% of the population who live this way, and therefore finding a solution that is flexible and does not cancel any of the elements in the system, is the only way to create lasting change

Urbanization will be the main challenge due to the expected growth of the population. Urban centers that are well connected by geometric networks of highways, with an additional network of expressways and infrastructure corridors, are absolutely necessary.  To bridge the urban-rural divide, the urban settlement plan is fully integrated into the environment, with the result of creating a foundation for sustainable growth even beyond the 21st century.


Development Strategy

The idea of balanced regional growth was favored.  The concept of the international expressways was superimposed on the highway system. Then the location of urbanization zones has been along these routes and coordinated with the distribution of agricultural clusters. These clusters define the rural areas, which are purely for agriculture.

All meaningful protected areas and water systems have been integrated into the final solution. The water system includes permanent wetlands, and the River Nile / Kyoga water system “bio-region,” but the seasonal wetlands are excluded from protection.  Also, the National Resources Blocks are protected.

Urban Settlements Hierarchy:

The projection for the total urban population is 30 Million, and the urban population forecast in big settlements (over 50,000) is 24.1 Million. The Rurban projection is 5.9 Million.

This emphasizes the need to avoid depletion and fragmentation of the strategic agricultural lands and clusters. Most of the urban development will be directed       to the secondary agricultural areas, while ruralization be encouraged in the strategic zones.

To reduce the expected conflict between the need to accelerate urbanization on the one hand and to modernize agriculture on the other- the dispersion of the population includes five new towns in addition to the empowerment of existing urban centers in the secondary agricultural areas.

The total land allocated for urbanization zones is 12,806 KM2 and the total gross area within the ring roads is 20,766 KM2. 



National Land Use & Development  Master  Plan  2050
Prepared for 2018-2020



Prof. Yigal Tzamir (Project Team Leader and Lead Consultant on Land Use Planning and Settlement Planning),

  • Frank Mustaff (Local Project Director and tourism expert),

  • Ronald Ngabo (Local team coordinator),

  • Amit Epstein (GIS international expert),

  • Dr. Carmen Nibigira (tourism expert),

  • Gitau Wamukui (Environment and Natural Resources),

  • Dr. Liron Amdur (Agriculture International expert),

  • Bernard Musana (GIS local expert),

  • Vivien Munyaburanga (Infrastructure local expert),

  • Dr. Ignace Kabano (Local economic expert),

  • Annette Karenzi (Local Developmental expert),

  • Alloys Mutabingwa (Local Legal expert), 

  • Planers  at Tzamir LTD


  Land Use Scheme

The  GOLDEN TRIANGLE   of satellites


  Railway Network


  Expressways and Arterial belt


Central to the achievement of Rwanda’s socio economic transformation, is the optimal use of land. Rwanda’s land size is 26,338 km2, including water areas. The population is about 12.5 million by 2019, increasing at nearly 2.4 percent per annum. Therefore, sustaining development progress relies heavily on efficient use of land resources. This calls for a robust land use planning and management at national, sectoral, and district levels. However, the following are underlying and emerging land use challenges to be addressed going forward.

Current Situation

  • With a current annual population growth rate of 2.4%, Rwanda’s population is projected at 25 Million in 2050 and at 22M population in 2050 if the annual population growth reaches at least 2%. This increase will undoubtedly affect land use which requires proper reflection and strategic adjustments of the settlement structure.

  • Urbanization is at 18.4% of the population living in urban areas while 81.6% live in scattered settlements in rural areas. This is intensified by a continuous spatial expansion which is highly land consuming and a threat to the economy of scale.

  • Available hillside agriculture lands are estimated at 41.5% of the country's surface which is critical to the future food demand for 22.1 projected population by 2050.

  • Infrastructure utilities and public services are pull factors for urbanization, but they are still provided to sprawled hamlets which kill the economic urbanization.

  • Stormwater management issues which are mainly caused by poor settlement structures and mining practices. According to the Natural Capital Accounting, Water account Report, Rwanda has an annual soil loss of about 64 tones per hectare, which is a very high indicator for rainwater management challenges.

  • The ambitious target of National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) and Vision 2050 is to increase the urbanization rate from 17,5% in 2017 to 35% by 2024 and 70% by 2050. This target calls for prudent land use in quality consolidated human habitation.

In light with the above issues, the Ministry of Environment in close collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and sectors initiated the National Land Use and Development master plan for the period of 2020-2050.

 NLUDMP for 2020-2050 includes the following new policy and strategic measures :


  • The urbanization hierarchy has been established (with estimated urban population and required land size for each city) Kigali City as capital,

  • 3 Satellite cities,

  • 8 secondary cities,

  • 16 districts towns and

  • 73 rurban settlements (emerging centres).

  • A new layer of satellite cities (Bugesera, Rwamagana, and Muhanga) has been proposed to minimize the primacy of Kigali City and support the development of growth poles (other potential towns).

  • Musanze, Rubavu, Rusizi, Nyagatare, and Huye will continue to develop as secondary cities with populations between 300,000 to 650,000 people. Additional three secondary cities (Karongi, Kayonza, and Kirehe) were identified to maximize and support the periphery near international borders.

  • Sixteen district towns have been identified with smaller in size, and a population ranging between 150,000 to 300,000 people.

  • A layer of rurban settlements (73 nodes with 24,500 population each) has been introduced as linkage nodes between urban and rural areas. All together they will be limited to a total of 1.8M people on an area of 307 km2.

  • The size of the urban sites and their corresponding population were limited to avoid urban sprawl.

  • The Urban population is projected at 7.5M (35%) on a coverage area of 897 km2 by 2035 and 15.4M (70%) on the coverage area of 1470 km2 by 2050.


An assessment of the current and future Housing stock was conducted: The country has today about 2.5M housing units and needs 5.5M (150,000 dwelling units to be constructed annually) to cater for 22M by 2050. Existing informal settlements will be upgraded and densification principles will be applied for existing cities and centers before using/developing new lands. The National Land Use and Development Master Plan proposes five categories of housing to be considered by local-level planning to achieve the desired consolidation and agglomeration.


Rural Settlements

  • The 2050 projected population of 6.6M (30%) will be clustered into 3000 settlement sites. An average of 1-2 settlement sites per one cell is required.

  • The Imidugudu system will be restructured into organized clusters, and this process will need to be undertaken continuously throughout the next 30 years.

  • Progressive elimination of the village as an administrative boundaries entity is recommended to remain with the Umudugudu as a social and economic entity.

  • Decrease the size of rural residences from 615 m2 to 300 m2 and the dwelling models of 4x1 and 8x1 to be promoted on 300 m2.

  • Avoid any new housing and utility development out of settlement boundaries.

  • Educate citizens for mind-set change towards the use of land in Rwanda (emphasis on young generation)

  • New development must imply agglomeration and consolidation principles.


An agriculture yield model was developed. For the agriculture sector to feed the 22.1 M population by 2050, the following are the land demand scenarios:

  • If current Yield situation continues, land demand will be 103,000 km² (4 times Rwanda’s surface).

  • If an advanced yield is adopted, Land demand will still be very high: 34,000 km² (1.3times Rwanda’s surface).

  • If the best global yield is developed, 15times of the current yield, Land demand will be 14,500 km². This scenario is the only realistic one.

  • In addition, the agriculture suitability mapping has been conducted countrywide, available agriculture lands were also identified and mapped at the national scale. The revised NLUDMP recommendation is to protect agriculture lands of 12,433 km² (Agriculture: 47.2% of the country surface) against any other use to ensure food sustainability.

  • Land per farmer ratio should be around 1.5 hectares per worker

  • Scattered homestead should be eliminated gradually- consolidate/agglomerate in few settlement sites. The transformation of the rural settlement system will be key to unlock development of commercial agriculture.


Manufacturing, Industrial Development and Mining

  • The growth rate of industrial parks will be an average of 7% annually, reaching 29 km² by 2035 and 88 km² by 2050. The pace will be slow in the first 15 years, only 6%, increasing to about 8% between 2035 and 2050.

  • Spatial distribution and optimal sizes of industrial parks were determined. Only 13 Industrial parks for 2050 are needed. Every province is strategically represented. 11 Cities/districts and 2 in the city of Kigali (Gasabo and Kicukiro) were identified for parks location. Other districts not included in the list of Industry parks will be allowed to plan only agro-processing mills and Agakiriro, which require small areas. The past practice of planning industrial parks in every district through local urban development master plans will be prohibited.

  • The vertical construction of industrial buildings is highly encouraged to optimize the land.

  • Small-scale mining exploitation will progressively transform into a regional mineral processing hub. Designation of mining sites will be done after undertaking a cost- benefit analysis of the sites, in which mining activities are proposed versus current or alternative land uses. Mineral value addition will be central to the development of the sector.



Rwanda has a very dense road network coverage, which explains the scattered nature of its human habitat. The existing road network of 37,896 km (44,669Km including paths) has been analyzed, and a new road hierarchy is proposed to achieve the desired vision 2050. NLUDMP recommends to scale up land transportation networks (to ease internal and international trade): 730 km of Expressways, 805km of an Arterial belt, connecting all secondary cities, and 505 km of 3 railway lines, connecting Rwanda to its neighboring countries are proposed. It is important to underscore that consolidation of settlements and public facilities will reduce the cost and length of roads.


and Conservation: Based on 2050 Vision, the tourism segments which will shape the future of the tourism industry shall include MICE, Wildlife, Cultural and historical, Medical, Educational, Water-based, Adventure and religious tourism. Given the limited available land, the principle of intensification (using small land at maximum benefit) must be adopted to achieve tourism goals.


  • Public Utilities and Services (Water supply, energy, ICT, Education, Health and Public administration): Public services and utilities will improve when people move from where they are today to agglomerations where utilities are centralized. Distribution of utilities to sprawled settlements is strongly discouraged going forward.


  • With a GDP growth of 8 times, 1,500 MW power will be needed by 2050

  • Access to water will be scaled up to all in planned settlements by 2024.

  • Water supply systems in rural areas and daily water production capacity shall be increased from 182,120 to 303,120 m3/day

  • Standards land areas for health and schools has been set. Any new health and Education facility to be built within urban and rural settlement boundaries and vertical construction of buildings will be mandatory.


Environment and Natural Resources

NLUDMP proposes the rational use of natural resources in order to optimize future land use management, which includes the following measures:

  • Ensuring that all 1,389 km² of natural forests should be preserved entirely, and economically maintained and managed.

  • Ensuring that all existing 3,873 km² of forest plantations will be protected, increase the current forest densities, and professionally and financially managed.

  • Ensuring that all the bare slope above 55% totaling 1,554 km² of high hills are planted with trees to become part of the forest cover. If economically maintained and managed, cash crops like tea can be developed.

  • Ensuring that there are no new plantations of forest in agriculture lands, except agroforestry.

  • Ensuring that all the water bodies and their buffer zones and the protected wetlands and their buffer zones totaling 4,242 Km2 are protected. The buffer zones need to be used for their role in preserving the water bodies and wetlands.

  • Allowing conditional use of unprotected wetlands for commercial agriculture

  • Allowing shrubland (436 km²) and wooded savannah (1040 km²) to be allocated for Agriculture, except their protected parts.

  • Opening of a conditional use of slopes between 30-50% for construction projects subject to proper/ in depth infrastructure studies and establishing special investment requirements.

  • Ensuring that all existing urban, rurban, and rural settlements are consolidated in proposed sites, decongesting all other areas for agriculture and conservation.

  • Land Use Balance Sheet: The size of Rwanda is 26,338 km², including water bodies and protected wetlands. Net land cover is 23,038 km², and this is the quantity on which land uses to compete. The following is the land allocated to sectors by 2050: Agriculture: 47.2%, Built areas: 15.1%, Forest and Conservation: 29.3% and Water and protected wetlands: 8.5% of the country surface.


 Implementation, compliance and monitoring


  • Strengthening the legal and institutional framework is necessary to support effective implementation of NLUDMP. The new Land Law (awaiting Cabinet approval) must be the sole legal tool to govern the land use planning in Rwanda. All other conflicting laws and policies should be appealed. The institutional reform in land management is also needed to reinforce oversight of land use planning and management.

  • Delineation and enforcement settlement boundaries is strongly recommended. Spontaneous individual constructions should be discourged while promoting professional real estate developers, housing cooperatives, and housing investment.

  • The Ministry in charge of land should be given powers to provide a non-objection to any land use plan. This will be instrumental in resolving coordination and compliance issues.

  • The national development planning and budgeting process should ensure that sectors priorities and investments comply with the NLUDMP.

  • The use of ICT in land use monitoring is a precedence to the successful implementation: GoR is recommended to invest in real-time monitoring using spatial data and integrated land use Monitoring system.

  • Improving and scaling up use of Building Permitting Management Information system (BPMIS) countrywide is critical.

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