Reflections on Rwanda

kigaliI spent the week of March 17th participating in an initiative of the International Growth Centre and the World   Bank which culminated in a National Forum on Sustainable Urbanization on March 20-21 in Rwanda. 

Rwanda has accomplished an enormous transformation since the genocide that rocked the country in 1994.   Paul Kagame, leader of the rebel force that took control of the country and ended the genocide, (with no help whatever from the international community) has led a remarkable transformation. He has been able to resurrect pre-colonial tribal traditions of citizen participation in decision making, effect unification of the dissident factions, and lead the country in to a modern future; all in twenty years.

The first three days of the sabbatical was spent learning about Rwandan government, including the opportunity to interview many officials at both the national and local level. The Rwandan government is complex, which is expected for a government for a country of 11.5 million people.  Interestingly, officials have continued to ‘struggle with’ the issue of how to build up and delegate to the 30 Districts across the country, which they consider their “local governments.”  The City of Kigali is the capital city, with a population of 1.2 million, which is expected to double in population by 2030.  Urbanization is viewed as advantageous because studies show that the more urbanized a country is, the more productive is its economy, with the corresponding beneficial influence on the rate of poverty. Today, Rwanda is secure (walking the streets of Kigali at night is common, without fear) and incredibly clean.  Any American city would suffer in comparison on both counts. 

My role was to work to identify ideas that could be contributed to Rwanda’s governance, development practices and planning. My charge was similar to a consulting engagement with Management Partners clients –to approach the project with respect for the world and humility in offering ideas for consideration; the latter being even more important in a country on a different continent with a culture and history quite different from our own.

One Stop Center, Kigali, Rwanda

I am fortunate to be on a “working vacation” in Kigali, Rwanda, attending a conference on urbanization sponsored by the International Growth Centre. Rwanda is about the size of Vermont in land area, but with a population of 11.5 million. Urbanization is one of their priorities as they expect the population in the capital city of Kigali (currently one million people) to double in the next 10 years.

I had the opportunity to visit the One Stop Centre for development permitting for an overview about how planning and permitting is done in Kigali. Their mission is “Simple. Fast. Reliable.” The key takeaways for me were: First, this is truly a best practice because all development applications come through one physical location (electronically submitted) and the Centre staff then distributes plans to all reviewers, regardless of their respective departments or agencies. Second, each reviewer has a timeline they must meet. Third, all reviewers are on the same software system and the applicant can check online at any time to see the progress of their application. Fourth, the Centre guarantees a 30 day turnaround. When asked what happens if an applicant does not provide quality plans, the answer was, “They too have an incentive. If the plans must be resubmitted, they must do it quickly because after 30 days, the project will have to begin again.”

The leaders in Kigali and Rwanda are committed to outcome based performance and so monitoring turnaround times is a serious endeavor. With cranes visible throughout the city’s skyline, the development review process here seems to be a shining example of how placing a priority on development and cooperation can yield good results.

kigali dev center

City Managers Department Meeting (CA)

Congratulations to the 2014 City Managers' Department award winners!

The City of Santa Rosa, led by City Manager Kathy Millison, has received the Award for the Advancement of Diverse Communities for its extensive programs and policies designed to build a more community.

Elaine Polachek, Assistant City Manager for the City of Santa Monica, is this year's recipient of the John H. Nail Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions of an assistant manager.

Ted Gaebler, City Manager of Rancho Cordova, has received the Wes McClure Award of Distinction for his significant contributions to local government management, not only in California, but around the world. 

Management Partners is privileged to know each of these outstanding individuals as colleagues and friends, and would like to extend our sincere congratulations, as well as our appreciation for their contributions to the city management profession.

Jerry Newfarmer, Jan Perkins, Cathy Standiford and Tammy Letourneau were on hand at the League of California Cities, City Managers' Department Meeting, to personally congratulate this year's winners.   Management Partners is proud to be a gold sponsor of the City Managers Department.

Santa Ana Community Workshops Are a Huge Success

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the City of Santa Ana hosted two Strategic Planning community workshops, one in the morning and the second in the afternoon, with a total of more than 280 community members in attendance. The purpose was to provide feedback on the data gathered through an online survey, to which over 900 people responded.

Amy Paul speaks with community members at the beginning of the workshop

City Manager David Cavazos welcomed each group and thanked participants. Amy Paul, corporate vice president from Management Partners, provided a brief overview of strategic planning and then shared results from the survey. The city had made the surveys available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, and for the community workshop sessions, the city provided headsets for simultaneous Spanish and Vietnamese translation.

Residents prepare to provide their ideas for Santa Ana's future

Community members were able to examine results in these nine priority areas:

  • Public safety
  • Youth/recreation/education
  • Business/job growth
  • City financial stability
  • Arts and culture
  • Neighborhood/housing
  • Community wellness/environment/open space
  • Community facilities/infrastructure
  • Transportation/transit

City Manager David Cavazos talks with residents during the workshop

Participants put their heads together to come up with new ideas for actions they, the city, or other organizations could take to help. Thousands of ideas (literally!) emerged. Congratulations to Santa Ana for making the effort to plan such great events!

Thank you to the participants for taking the time to provide input into Santa Ana's future!

Growing our Roster

The team at Management Partners is always looking for ways to better serve our local government clients. We are pleased to announce that in the first six months of 2013, our company has brought on new associates in our West Coast Offices: Melanie Corona joins Management Partners as our West Coast Marketing Manager. She was previously with Piper Jaffray and the Gilroy Downtown Business Association. Melanie runs our West Coast marketing team and manages the marketing efforts of our project managers.

Alan Rosen, Senior Management Advisor, joins us from Washoe County, NV where he served in the budget office. Alan has over 12 years of local government experience at both the city and county levels. He is based in our Florida office and currently manages new projects there.

Also from Washoe County, Rosemary Menard, who served as the Utilities Director there, has taken on a project management role.

We have added a new analyst, Brittany Gabel in our San Jose office. Brittany comes to us from the City of Oakland where she was a management intern in the Public Works Agency. 

And as always, our entire team is committed to providing our clients with an optimum level of service and knowledge about our craft. We look forward to working with you in the future!


© Management Partners, Inc. 2011