Published on 13.07.2016
Meet Israeli Architect Yigal Tzamir:
Uganda's New National Planner
After winning a World Bank tender, the Haifa-based professor will be heading up an effort to address urban chaos, transportation inefficiency and the need to find a balance between nature and industry.
Gulu, north of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. “The cities have been built like helter-skelter patchwork and there are wars over territory,” says Tzamir.Credit: James Akena/Reuters
Just days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set off for his trip to Africa last week, Haifa-based architect Yigal Tzamir learned that he had won the World Bank tender to draw up a national master plan for Uganda.
Tzamir has already had experience with big plans: He has drawn up blueprints for the Haifa Bay area as well as a master plan for northern Israel, and recently he came up with a plan for Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Now he will be drafting a plan for the entire east African country, which has a population of more than 37 million, in cooperation with both local and Israeli teams of planners.
Tzamir is just one of many Israeli architects who are currently working, or have worked in the past, in Africa. According to him, the goal now is to draw up a comprehensive plan on the basis of a collection of surveys that have been carried out in Uganda, which define the country’s needs and the challenges facing it. The teams are charged with planning cities and infrastructure including new road systems, and they will demarcate areas that will be used for establishing industry.
According to Tzamir, a professor who has taught at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Uganda has set itself the goal of achieving a GDP of $9,500 within 20 years (Israel’s GDP today is $35,000), while simultaneously decreasing its birth rate during that period, thus reducing the population from a projected 80 million at the current rate to 60 million.
“They have a lot of oil that they have discovered, and also phosphates. And the oil is close to huge nature reserves,” he relates. “Our plan has to strike a balance between nature and industrial development. We are looking for solutions that will determine the extent to which the industry will be limited – these are among the things we have to draw up.”
One of the challenges facing Africa as a whole today is urbanization. Many former village-dwellers have been settling on the outskirts of cities in huge slum areas. Because of this situation, in Uganda, explains Tzamir, “it has been decided to build five new cities. There will be one based on trade, say, or on high-tech. We will establish a countrywide system with locales of different degrees of [economic] importance. In addition, the existing cities will be enlarged considerably in the coming years and we want the new, added parts not to be created in a random fashion.”
The capital of Uganda, Kampala, in 2015.Credit: James Akena, Reuters
Not like Hong Kong
Roughly speaking, urban areas in the West fall into two categories: crowded historical cities which feature public transportation and a lot of pedestrian traffic, and suburban cities that are based on private car use. In Israel, Tel Aviv is in the first category and Modi’in, for example, is in the second. In response to the question of which type of cities they are planning for Uganda, Tzamir replies that the planners will have to combine the principles of Western cities with “the local chaos,” as he calls it.
“In the past, they lived in all kinds of shacks and we are proposing three- or four-story buildings. The construction has to be dense and there will also be complexes with inner courtyards and a network of green areas that will allow for a sort of 'inner life,' because this is a communal society that lives in the streets a lot.
"The intention isn’t to build a city like Hong Kong – it’s not suited to Africa. If we design an overly-planned dense grid like in cities in the United States, it won’t work. It’s necessary to design a general network of streets within which there will be additional, freer systems, which suits the way of life in Africa.”
Moreover, explains Tzamir, there are major problems of mobility in a country such as Uganda where the inhabitants are poor: “Transportation is a critical problem, because there is no vehicle ownership there – and an incredible number of motorbikes. Therefore, we are planning cities based on pedestrian traffic. For example, the residential areas will be at most two kilometers away from the commercial center. We are also planning light-rail and rapid transit bus systems [like in Haifa]."
Haifa-based architect Tzamir. “I don’t see anything negative in newness,” he says. Isn’t it sort of amusing that Israel, where nothing gets built according to the original plan, is teaching others how to plan towns, infrastructure and public transportation?
Tzamir: “If you take, for example, the planning reports by Prof. Moshe Hirsch, who designed the light rail-project in Jerusalem, you can turn them into a textbook and use them as a basis for teaching at Harvard or MIT. The problem is that Israel messes around with its reports and people trip each other up and there are administrative problems too. In Uganda things are simpler.”
In essence, in Israel, he says, professional knowledge is not translated into reality on the ground.
“Here,” he explains, “there is a volume of plans unequalled anywhere, plan upon plan upon plan. You need to stick a needle three meters long through the pile of paper. And as time goes by, the needle gets longer. For Uganda, I am drawing up a single plan. Thus, when they get to page 17 – they will see what has to be done and will not need to check things elsewhere.”
Does Uganda really need new cities or expansion of existing ones, as is accepted now around the world?
“A city needs to be designed so that it can grow. When you look at a city in Uganda, it’s hard to understand its structure, because the cities there have been built up like helter-skelter patchwork and there are wars over territory. Huge parts of them are residential areas that look like primitive build-your-own-home neighborhoods, and in order to change this is it is necessary to change the whole system.
"What we’re doing is to create roads leading into the city that will make it possible to build on the outskirts, because inside there’s a huge mess. We are adding to the cities something that is modern, an influence that will gradually work its way inward.
“In addition to the satellite towns we will, as I said, build new cities, for example in a new area where oil has been found. I don’t see anything negative in newness.”
World Bank, gov't hire Israel firm to plan for five new cities
By John Semakula
14th July 2016 12:26 PM
Chairperson of the National Planning Authority (NPA), Kisamba Mugerwa
The government of Uganda and World Bank have hired an Israel Architect, Yigal Tzamir to draw the country's National Development Physical plan.
The plan will include five new cities, industrial parks and a network of infrastructure, like roads and rails for light trains.
According to the website for the Haaretz newspaper, Tzamir won the tender a few days before Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Natenyahu visited Uganda.
Natenyahu was in Uganda on July 4 to mark 40 years since his country's military raided Entebbe International Airport to rescue dozens of Israelites who had been taken hostage by terrorists.
The spokesperson of Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Denis Obbo confirmed the development. Obbo told New Vision that the government will co-fund the project with World Bank.
He said the Israelite won the tender after a competitive bidding process initiated by the Uganda government. "He will table his papers and costs anytime," Obbo said.
Tzamir, a Professor who has taught at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, said Uganda's national development physical plan will be based on the collection of surveys that have been carried out in the country.
He will work with a team of local planners to execute the task.
Source said Tzamir has in the past drawn plans for Kampala, blueprints for Haifa Bay area in Israel and the master plan for northern Israel.
He said the five new cities in the plan will be trade and high-tech based.
"They will also have locales of different degrees of economic importance," he said. "Their construction will be dense and there will be complexes with inner courtyards and a network of green areas that allow for the sort of inner life because this is a communal society that lives in the streets a lot," he said.
The chairperson of the National Planning Authority (NPA), Kisamba Mugerwa told New Vision that the national development physical plan was long overdue.
New Rwanda land cover scheme to be released, more land to be allocated to agriculture
On 28 January 2020 at 10:56
In 2011, the government of Rwanda released a land cover scheme that was set to facilitate the analysis and usefulness of land, water as well as the nature of constraints placed on agricultural growth. However, land as the most valuable natural resource in Rwanda and the engine of its economy continuously succumbs under the pressure of rapid urbanization and population growth. Rwanda aspires to become an upper middle-income country by 2035 and higher income by 2050 where Income per capita is expected to be $12476 annually. It is a highly ambitious goal that will require effective land use to be achieved as Rwanda’s economy partially relies on agriculture.
The 2011 land cover scheme was developed for use until 2020 but its objectives were unfortunately not reached.
In November 2019, the Ministry of Environment through Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA) entered a partnership with Tzamir Architects and Planners Ltd from Israel and Horwath Htl to develop a new land cover scheme that will replace the one of 2011. RLMUA announced the scheme was in its completion phase and will be in line with the ‘Vision2050’ goal as it will analyze trends in the use of land and other resources.
Regarding population settlements, the new land use scheme will provide details about types of cities according to the density of population and development activities contributing to the livelihoods of residents.
The government of Rwanda predicts an improvement in the urban share of population by 70% in 2050 from 20% recorded in 2019.
Although the City of Kigali will remain the capital city of Rwanda, the land use scheme predicts the potential for neighboring cities to develop. Those cities include Muhanga, Nyamata, and Rwamagana as well as cities close to border posts including Nyagatare, Musanze, Rubavu, Karongi, Rusizi, Huye, Kirehe and Kayonza. For developing the remaining cities, the government will invest in agriculture and trade activities.
The land use scheme also presents an area increment chart where some cities will be expanded by 16% of their total area. The number of villages in Rwanda will reduce from 13,000 to only 4000 villages.
RUTAGENGWA Alexis, Head of Surveying, Land Use and Mapping Department at RLMUA told IGIHE that the new land scheme will be a consolidated source of data that will allow Rwandans to settle in cities according to their financial capacity.
‘The land scheme will help the government of Rwanda to monitor its limited resources of land, add value to its development planning and will be used by citizens to register land ownership.”
More high-rise building will be built in Kigali while in rural areas, the scheme predicts more public housing facilities with access to water, electricity, sewage and other infrastructures. In addition, land parcels and their ownership will be readjusted to allow effective land consolidation.
The land use scheme also incorporates transport routes including railways.
60% of Rwandans are in agriculture but agriculture only contributes to 30% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The government of Rwanda plans on improving agriculture to meet the needs of an estimated 22 million population in 2050. Currently, agricultural land is 48% of the country’s total area.
To achieve this, the land scheme will allocate a large part of the Eastern and South-Eastern to agriculture due to the abundance of arable land fit for irrigation and crop rotation.
Rutagengwa said the only way the new land use scheme will be effective is to promote land consolidation. “land consolidation will facilitate the adoption of new agricultural technologies leading to a more prosperous and efficient agricultural sector.”
Currently, 30.4% of Rwanda’s total area is allocated to agroforestry. The scheme encourages continuous forest conservation.
RUTAGENGWA Alexis, Head of Surveying, Land Use and Mapping Department at RLMUA
The 2011 land cover scheme was developed for use until 2020 but its objectives were unfortunately not reached.