Located in the geographical middle of the country, this city has been the economic, cultural and political hub of Rwanda since 1962, when the nation gained its independence. Kigali is built across four hill ridges and their connecting valleys, with larger and more expensive homes at the peaks and less affluent neighborhoods nestled below.
Foreign investment into Kigali has been strong in recent years. As such, this city has grown into a business hub with the evolving skyline to prove it. While tin mines are in operation near the city, tourism and non-governmental organizations provide the most viable work opportunities for expats. The Rwandan economy is growing rapidly – per capita GDP grew from 206 USD in 2002 to 638 USD in 2013 – and poverty is falling, meaning there are ample opportunities in this quiet metropolis.
Expect a tropical Savannah climate with a pronounced dry season. Temperatures tend to stay in the high teens to mid-twenties, peaking in February and early autumn and dipping very slightly in the spring. The biggest weather changes throughout the year will be in rainfall. Average precipitation peaks in spring at around six inches (15 centimeter) per month, while in the summer months it drops sharply to less than half an inch (1.3 centimeter).
Like many countries, there are a number of ways to enter Rwanda legally and work. You need to start by obtaining a visa. There are several options, beginning with a tourist visa for any expatriates who would like to go on a first fact-finding trip before moving to Kigali.
A job search visa, valid for 90 days, is available to anyone whose profession is included on the Occupations in Demand List – which includes architects, education professionals and even film and stage directors.
You can also obtain work permits via more specific routes – for example, the Rwandan government allows people to stay and work in the country for ‘hospitality industry and related activities’ or, if you have an assured income of more than 5,000 USD per month you can obtain a temporary ‘Person with Assured Income’ permit. This lasts for two years.
There is a great amount of flexibility in the Rwandan system. Even tourists, who in many nations would need to leave the country before changing their visa status to one where work is permitted, are allowed to change their status whilst in the country.
All non-nationals living in Rwanda legally are required to carry an identification card. These cards do not need to be renewed. Some expats in Rwanda have taken to gaming the system by entering the country first on a tourist visa and simply exiting and reentering the country every 90 days, but be aware that while it may be possible to work on a tourist visa, it is not legally allowed!
You can learn more about gaining entry into Rwanda, finding work and staying legally at the website for the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration.