Kigali is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is near the nation's geographic centre in a region of rolling hills, with a series of valleys and ridges joined by steep slopes. The city has been Rwanda's economic, cultural, and transport hub since it became the capital following independence from Belgian rule in 1962. The area was controlled by the Kingdom of Rwanda from the 17th century and then by the German Empire.
The city of Kigali is divided into three districts—Gasabo, Kicukiro, and Nyarugenge—which historically had control of significant areas of local governance. The city also hosts the main residence and offices of the president of Rwanda and most government ministries. The largest contributor to Kigali's gross domestic product is the service sector, but a significant proportion of the population works in agriculture including small-scale subsistence farming. Attracting international visitors is a priority for city authorities, including leisure tourism, conferences and exhibitions.
Kigali is the economic and financial hub of Rwanda, serving as the country's main port of entry and largest business centre. The three districts of Kigali represented 42 per cent of Rwanda's total output. A World Bank study measured the total turnover of registered companies in the country, as reported to the Rwanda Revenue Authority, and found that 92 per cent of these were from the city of Kigali. However, the authors noted that this figure excluded turnover from small-scale farming, and was also inflated for companies headquartered in Kigali with revenue generated elsewhere in Rwanda. Official statistics classify economic activity as either "farm" or "non-farm", and Kigali accounts for 39 per cent of non-farm waged employees in the country.
The largest contributor to Kigali's economy is the service sector. The World Bank estimates that services contributed 53 per cent of GDP in 2014, while a 2012 study by Surbana International Consultants put the figure at almost 62 per cent. Activity within the service sector includes retail, information technology, transport and hotels, and real estate. The city authorities have prioritised business services for expansion, constructing several modern buildings in the CBD such as the Kigali City Tower. Attracting international visitors is a priority for both the city and the Rwanda Development Board, including leisure tourism, conferences and exhibitions. Kigali is the major arrival point for tourists visiting Rwanda's national parks and tracking mountain gorillas, and has its own sites of interest such as the Kigali Genocide Memorial and ecotourist facilities, as well as bars, coffee shops and restaurants. Expansion of destinations by carrier RwandAir and building of new facilities such as the Kigali Convention Centre has attracted events to Kigali including the African Development Bank's Annual General Assembly, and an extraordinary summit of the African Union. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was scheduled to be held in the city in June 2020, with attendees including national leaders.
The city's largest employment sector is agriculture, fishing and forestry, representing 24 per cent of the workforce. Farmland comprised over 60 per cent of the land within the city's boundaries in 2012, mostly in the outer areas surrounding the urban core. As is the case nationwide, much of the agriculture in Kigali is subsistence farming on small plots, but there are some larger modern farms close to the city, particularly in Gasabo district, which has the highest average area of cultivated land per household in the country. Other major employment areas in the city are government, which comprises 12 per cent of the workforce, transportation and communication, construction, and manufacturing. The NISR classifies 21 per cent of the workforce as being employed in "other services" such as utilities and financial services, the latter including banking, pensions, insurance, microfinance, and the Rwanda Stock Exchange.
Industry in Kigali forms only 14 per cent of the city's GDP, focused on a small industrial zone set up in the 1970s. Challenges for the sector include the high cost of importing raw materials into a landlocked country, as well as substandard infrastructure and a lack of skilled workers. The first special economic zone was established in 2014 on Masoro Hill in Gasabo district, close to Kigali International Airport. Companies operating within the zone benefit from good infrastructure, availability of land and transport links, as well as tax breaks. It attracted 61 businesses in its first year of operation, manufacturing products such as paper and foam mattresses. As the zone grew over subsequent years, further businesses relocated there from other parts of the capital such as the Gikondo Industrial Park. The city sits close to deposits of cassiterite, an ore used to obtain tin, as well as tungsten. Cassiterite is mined in the town of Rutongo, around 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) north of Kigali, while tungsten is mined at Nyakabingo, a similar distance away. Much of the raw mineral is exported out of Rwanda for processing, but there are some local processing facilities. This includes the Karuruma smelter in the northern suburbs of Kigali.
Kigali is rated Sufficiency by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. Sufficiency level cities are cities that have a sufficient degree of services so as not to be overly dependent on world cities.
Kigali is rated D by the Global Urban Competitiveness Report (GUCR) which evaluates and ranks world cities in the context of economic competitiveness. D cities are regional hub cities. Kigali was ranked #807 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. Kigali has a population of over 745,261 people. Kigali also forms part of the wider Kigali metropolitan area which has a population of over 1,132,000 people.