Kigali Downtown

Smart Cities Innovation Programme (SCIP)

Promoting African start-ups
for the continent’s urban future

Context and challenges

African cities on the rise

According to the World Bank, increasing urbanisation holds a lot of potential for the continent. It can strengthen economic growth and increase prosperity. At the same time, however, there is a risk that existing social inequality and urban poverty will be exacerbated by urbanisation. To prevent this and promote sustainable development in African countries, concrete measures are needed to steer Africa's urban transformation in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to Rwanda's Vision 2050, smart cities “integrate shared information and communication technology (ICT), infrastructure and services into management and provision of critical public utilities”. As such, smart cities use digital technologies to drive a city's operational efficiency, promote economic growth or improve the quality of government services. This can include areas such as infrastructure, environmental measures, transport and mobility, citizen well-being, urban planning and much more.

Rwanda serves as a flagship country on smart cities and communities in the Smart Africa Alliance. It has set itself the goal of establishing the country as a Pan African hub for digital innovation, specifically as a pioneer in the field of smart cities. Rwanda offers itself as both a starting platform for young entrepreneurs and an anchor point for cooperation with the private sector.

In collaboration with the Rwandan government, Invest for Jobs and the Tech-Entrepreneurship Initiative “Make-IT in Africa” have launched the Smart Cities Innovation Programme (SCIP) to accelerate the growth of tech start-ups with smart city solutions and build sustainable innovation ecosystems.

Project approach and project goals

Supporting tech start-ups in the context of smart cities

SCIP aims to strengthen innovation within Rwanda and provide a platform for local start-ups to network with international business partners and investors. To this end, the programme supports companies with scalable solutions and innovative business models in the fields of smart mobility, smart housing and fintech for smart cities in Rwanda and other African countries.

A high-level, international jury will select a total of 30 tech start-ups by June 2021 to participate in the programme. To further develop their business and their products and services, the selected start-ups will benefit from specialised training and capacity building, individual coaching and mentoring, as well as intensive networking and matchmaking with potential business partners and investors.

The programme is implemented in partnerships with stakeholders from the private sector and other partners – VW, Siemens and African Business Angel Network (ABAN) among others – to bring in highly specialised technical expertise as well as to build the start-ups’ networks. This collaboration with international and African business partners and investors helps the start-ups scale their smart city innovations. Ultimately, the programme will strengthen the start-ups within the African ecosystem to increase their market reach and company growth, creating an opportunity for business expansion and the creation of new jobs in Rwanda and beyond.

Status and outlook

Green City Kigali as a real-life use case for smart city solutions

Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, has already started to implement the concept of smart cities. The Green City Kigali is considered an urban pilot project. In the future, smart city solutions will be implemented and tested in Green City Kigali under real market conditions. This will create a viable business opportunity for the start-ups participating in the SCIP to enter the Rwandan market.

The Smart Cities Innovation Programme is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in the context of Invest for Jobs and the Tech-Entrepreneurship Initiative “Make-IT in Africa” on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Project details

Project status


Project locations

Rwanda Kigali

Project objectives

create jobs promote start-ups promote investment


ICT & Digital economy Mobility Other

A project with

Companies Universities


We are looking forward to hearing from you

Please refer to the Data Protection Statement for information about your rights and options for withdrawing your consent.

Press contact

Phone: +49 30 / 18 535-28 70 oder -24 51

Fax: +49 30 / 18 535-25 95


Please understand that the Press Office only answers questions from journalists.