Hello Kigali (A Beginner’s Guide)

Chris Dare🔥
6 min readAug 4, 2019

Bite!👋👋👋👋 (It translates from Kinyarwandan to “hello” in English)

It’s been a while I wrote something so I thought to break the long overdue silence by sharing a few experiences from my visit to Kigali in Rwanda. If you’re from West Africa (especially) and looking to visit Rwanda, this should be helpful. Bear in mind, however, that it’s not extensive. I’ve just been here for 2 days. But I’m publishing this story now because I’m not sure if I’ll write about it after a week or two passes. Got a tight schedule coming up. Also, this is just limited to Kigali because I haven’t been to any of the country’s other provinces yet.

Ok people, let’s roll!!!

Closest thing I’ve seen (with my eyes) to the aurora so I had to grab a shot.

I touched down in Kigali after a 6/7-hour flight from Accra. It was night time and I couldn’t see much but the streets gave me good vibes: they’re clean and lit (confirmed in daylight). I checked in to my hotel a few minutes later and went to have dinner.

So, about dinner. . .

Man, it’s tasteless😂😂.

“Chicken and chips,” I said to myself, “What could go wrong?”

Well, apparently everything🤣 🤣. I couldn’t taste a thing…lol.

Taste is everything in Ghana so the food here is off for me. But I have to get used to it.

Image from Envato.

You’re gonna need these two guys up there especially if you’re West African. Everyone says I’ll get used to it — but I’m not sure yet. Food without the standard seasoning I know has been a bummer but I’m trying to improvise. Fried eggs taste the same though — after enforcing the cook to add salt. Nonetheless, even the most common of foods here in Rwanda is very healthy. Gotta say…I’m impressed, Rwandans.

There’s a lot of potato chips here too. Common and cheap. Like fried yam in my motherland, Ghana!!!!

Weather?

Is it cold or hot? Ummm it depends on where you’re coming from. So for me, it was a little cold for me at the start. Summer’s ending and we’re about to enter the dry season. Temperatures got to 15C sometime today but for the most part, it’s gonna be somewhere close to 21C.

(Now I wrote that yesterday — but it was pretty darn hot the day after. Can’t tell for sure yet. So what I’m gonna do is that I’ll just publish this story and update later on in the future. But then I can tell you that Kigali’s about to enter the dry season. So it’ll be pretty cold — for me — in the evenings.)

And…I haven’t seen much to shed more light so let’s keep it at that.

Cost of Living?

Since most people can relate to dollars, I’ll quote the prices in US Dollars and Rwandan Francs. You also have to note that Inflation or deflation, as well as interest rates, can cause these figures to change over time. So take note.)

So a bottle of water is pretty much 300RWF which is a little under 2GHS and 0.40USD. You can grab a 330ml bottle of Fanta or coke for 500RWF or 0.50USD.

Food? Uhh you pretty much have to choose between going to a restaurant or cooking. Unlike Accra or Lagos, there’s no waakye or suya seller by the roadside. Taxation is pretty tight here and you need to set up a restaurant if you wanna sell food. They’re gonna check your papers and assert that you’re paying tax and all of that stuff. A little over 10,000 RWF or 11 dollars a day can get you breakfast, lunch, and supper. Thinking about it now, I just realized I haven’t had lunch since I got here…interesting🤔. Breakfast has been awesome and I’m learning to stop complaining to myself about dinner. (I’m addicted to seasoning, charle.)

Transportation? If you’re just here to visit, use “on-demand” transport or get a tap-and-pay bus card. Your charge on the card starts at 300WF or 0.40USD. There isn’t Uber, Taxify or Yango here. Rather you can use this app called Move by VW or Yegocabs. Now I’m not sure about Yegocabs’ pricing but Move will cost you about 400RWF or 0.50USD per km. Bikes are also very common in Kigali so you can get a rider to take you anywhere you wanna go. Now we know them as Okadas in Accra and Lagos. (Also here, TVS is the most common brand of bikes.) You can also get a bicycle rider to move you around if you wish — but I don’t trust its reflex capacity in moving traffic. Not sure about the rate either but it’s cheaper.)

Motor prices start at 300RWF or 0.40USD and if you’re going to someplace in Kigali you shouldn’t have to pay more than 1700RWF or 2 USD. Apparently, if you learn Kinyarwanda, the local dialect, you can get or negotiate better quotes with the riders. Otherwise, they’ll just slap mad prices on you.

About taxis…well the fares are simple but not that simple:
The first kilometer you travel will cost you 1500RWF or 1.7USD.
An additional 29km will cost you 700RWF OR 0.80USD per km.
Any kilometer after that costs you 500RWF or 0.60USD.

S/O to my CMU class for helping me put the transport rates together!

Accommodation? 80 dollars a night can get you a decent hotel (with breakfast, a pool, sauna, and a gym). 400–500 dollars a month can get you a 4 bedroom house to rent. Airbnb will be your best bet if you’re traveling alone and have a decent budget.

4 bedroom house in Kigali costing somewhere about 450 USD

Other realizations

Energy seems like a big thing here in Kigali. I noticed a number of energy companies in Kigali’s economic zone. The use of Solar energy is ‘pretty’ common here too.

I really love the way Rwandans patronize their own products first and personalize their adoption of foreign technology. The government also runs a number of companies that work well. Not sure about their profitability but I think the numbers are positive.

There’s still a lot of land to build for business or residential purposes in Kigali.

Also, Rwandans have a really smart way of naming number plates. I think it pretty intelligent. (Number bases alert!) The last place for the car number is an alphabet rather than a number. So technically, you can say that the numbering is in base 26. That makes you accommodate a large set of numbers.

Street naming is so darn easy to remember.

Advice for aspiring visitors from West Africa?

Just pack seasoning and you’ll be fine😂

Till next time!

Hey, by the way, can you help me retweet this? It’s an irritating problem I have which I think Elon Musk’s Neuralink or a competitor (I guess) can solve. Pretty sure it’s been thought of before but I just got the idea yesterday. I think we can use a brain to machine interface technology to help us remember people’s names from our first encounters with them: https://twitter.com/chrisdare_/status/1158082111737356288

Retweet it…what could go wrong? You’ve read this story for free…now pay me with a retweet.🤷🤷 Thanks in advance! :-D

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