Private opportunities, public benefits? The scope for private finance to deliver low-carbon transport systems in Kigali, Rwanda

A significant portion of finance for a low-carbon transition is expected to come from private sources. This may be particularly the case in the transport sector, where there is a large private sector presence and substantial investment needs, and in low-income countries, where climate action is unlikely to be the first priority for public finances. However, it is unclear whether private finance can deliver the full range of actions that are needed for a low carbon transition, or what role the public sector can and should play to mobilise these resources. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is one of many cities in lower and middle income countries seeking to break away from business-as-usual trajectories and pursue more sustainable forms of urban development. In this paper, the economic case for a large set of low carbon transport investments in Kigali, Rwanda, is analysed from the perspective of a private investor and from the perspective of the city as an economic unit drawing on a data and methods used in a city-wide review of low carbon study of Kigali conducted in 2015 by the Climate Smart Cities team at the University of Leeds. Comparing the public and private perspectives provides the opportunity to explore the financing mechanisms and policy frameworks appropriate for different kinds of low-carbon investment, and to consider how governments in developing countries can lay the foundations for compact, connected low-carbon cities.

Urban Climate, 20, pp.59-74, June 2017