Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Construction permits to be issued online


City of Kigali mayor Ndayisaba (R), and the Minister of Infrastructure, Prof Lwakabamba during the launch of the online Construction Permit Management Information System, yesterday.
The City of Kigali yesterday launched the online Construction Permit Management Information System that is set to make acquisition of construction permits faster, simpler and easier.

In Kigali city, before one embarks on a construction project, they are required to get a permit from the city authorities.

However, with the new technology, architects will no longer need to go to the City of Kigali offices to apply for construction permits but do so from the comfort of their homes, offices, cyber cafes, using their internet enabled laptops, tablets or mobile phones.

They will also submit all the requirements to the authorities through the internet without the hustle of queuing or going back to the city offices to pick their approval documents or check on the progress of their applications.

Speaking during the launch of the $1.1m project yesterday, the Minister of Infrastructure Prof Silas Lwakabamba, pointed out that the new technology is aimed at making services available in a convenient and transparent manner.

“Kigali, as a gateway to Rwanda, it is important that we keep up with the latest standards and we are fully committed to that,” said Prof. Lwakabamba.

The acquisition of a construction permit is one of the World Bank benchmarks in ranking countries in its doing business reports. 

Although the latest report placed Rwanda as third most favourable place in the sub-Saharan Africa, the country’s performance in issuance of permits was deemed lacking.

The City Mayor, Fidele Ndayisaba said for the last few years the city has been involved in streamlining the system of issuing construction permits, reducing days for acquiring a construction permit, reducing procedures, putting in place a clients’ charter which process climaxed with launching of the online system for construction permit application yesterday.

On the new online application system, the Mayor pointed out that the system will not only help to enhance service delivery in the City of Kigali but also promote doing business and facilitate investors and other developers.

Major step 

Previously, handling documents manually involved some risks like files getting lost but according to the mayor, documents will not get lost again since they will be archived automatically online.

According to the City client’s charter, the process up to the point of acquiring a permit should last at least 30 days, however, with the new technology, if the applicant has fulfilled all the requirements, they should get the application in less than 10 days.

This is a major step, considering that in Singapore, the leading country in the latest doing business report 2013, it takes 26 days to acquire a construction permit.  The lowest construction permit for commercial buildings used to cost about Rwf625,000 but the new system brings it down to between Rwf20,000 and Rwf60,000.

The cost of acquiring a residential house permit has come down to Rwf20,000 from between Rwf60,000 and Rwf100,000.

The online Construction Permit Management Information System is a web-based system that runs on www.kcps.gov.rw for the full construction permits process cycle: from submission to delivery. 

 The system supports the entire process of client relations, assessment, and construction administration and other related permits like occupation, renovation, change of use, transformation and permit to construct a fence issued by CoK district offices.

The project was funded by the government, City of Kigali, Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF), and International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The Chief Operations officers of ICF, Michel Makale said that his organisation invested 47 per cent in the building of the system as a way of enhancing investment opportunities in Africa.

“Rwanda is our seventh destination in Africa to invest in. This is a country that has potential to use the technological facilities in attracting foreign investment,” said Makale.

The initiative has excited architects who say that their work has been made much easier since they are the primary beneficiaries of the system.

Fred Rwihunda, the president of the Institute of Architects and Engineers said, “In the engineering discipline, we used to use a lot of paper – sometime you could use about 300 pages on a single map – but we graduated to software, now we have a further more favouring initiative which is this online submission of applications.”

The other advantage, he added, all comments made by the city authorities on my application are recorded and another engineer can refer to it which is more like a knowledge sharing forum as well.

The City of Kigali Senior Advisor in charge of strategic sustainability and Urbanism, Dr. Donna Rubinoff said acquisition of construction permits is a process.

“This is why every item of the application is checked thorough but with a complete and properly done application it shouldn’t take long for someone to acquire a permit…this project is linked to the broader one of e-government,” said Dr Rubinoff.

The CoK One Stop Centre is currently charged partly with issuance of construction permits, and according to its Director, Lillian Mupende, several reforms have taken place to ensure easy acquisition of the permits.

Mupende pointed out that so far, requirements have been merged under one roof and that the applicant no longer needs to go to EWSA to get the water and electricity license and to RDB to get the Environmental Impact Assessment certificate as part of the requirement.

“We have brought the entire requirements under the One Stop Centre and we project a significant improvement in our doing business performance as well as attracting more investors,” she said.


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