A busy day in downtown Kampala, the capital of Uganda. A busy day in downtown Kampala, the capital of Uganda. A busy day in downtown Kampala, the capital of Uganda. (Photo: Sarine Arslanian /Shutterstock)

Uganda puts its future in the hands of an Israeli architect

The African country's new national planner plans to build 5 cities in 25 years.

Uganda – located in East Africa bordering Kenya, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania – is known for its vast natural resources. And with a population of 37 million and growing, planning for the future is of the utmost importance.

The country’s leaders have come up with a plan and have dubbed it Vision 2040. It's a practical set of directives that define the most important issues for Uganda in the next 25 years.

The goals of the plan include improving the coordination of the tourism sector; increasing efficiency and potential of the country’s natural resources and geothermal energy facilities; improving the quality of and access to healthcare; improving sanitation in rural areas and access to safe water supply; improving access to housing among all income groups; and developing an adequate, reliable and efficient transportation network.

The task of implementing these directives will fall on the shoulders of Israeli architect and new Ugandan national planner Yigal Tzamir. He runs his own firm based in the coastal Mediterranean city of Haifa, where he helped develop the city's bay area, and is also a professor at the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel. Tzamir will be assisted on the project by fellow Israeli professor Moshe Hirsch, who designed the light-rail system in Jerusalem.

Very few people in Uganda own their own car, but motorcycles are extremely popular.Very few people in Uganda own a car, but motorcycles are extremely popular. (Photo: Sarine Arslanian/Shutterstock)

“Uganda has a vision, and we'll make this desired future come true,” Tzamir told From the Grapevine. The architect will have a permanent local team in Kampala for the duration of the project and also visits frequently himself.

Uganda is home to a newfound gas field, and among the greatest challenges in the extensive project will be to find a balance between maximizing economic development and protecting the environment.

Tzamir recently completed a plan for the capital city of Kampala, and as the country’s urban center, it will have a large role in the new national development plan as well. Across Africa, people have been moving from their villages to cities by the tens of thousands, often living in vast slums on the outskirts of the metropolitan region.

Yigal Tzamir Israeli architect Yigal Tzamir

To deal with this situation in Uganda, Tzamir and his team plan to build five new cities, each with a different underlying goal – for example, technology or trade – as well as to develop existing cities in a thoughtful way that will allow greater connectivity and a better quality of life for the country's citizens.

Public transportation is also a critical issue, since very few people own a car. In Europe, cities are generally built around a historical center served by pedestrian throughways and public transportation, and in the U.S. they are generally built for private car use.

In Uganda, Tzamir’s team will need to plan cities based on a high volume of pedestrian, bicycle and motorbike traffic – residential and commercial areas will be a maximum of 1.5 miles apart, and there will also be a new light-rail and bus system – but they must also plan for what the future might bring. Roads that lead into the cities will also be built to make it possible to accommodate growth on the outskirts.

According to Tzamir, Uganda is poised to achieve its desired future. “This task can be accomplished by analyzing the change mechanisms in Uganda and measuring the ability and motivation to adopt change,” he told us.

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Uganda puts its future in the hands of an Israeli architect
The African country's new national planner plans to build 5 cities in 25 years.