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Lake Kivu beach at Gisenyi
Lake Kivu beach at Gisenyi
Gisenyi is located in Rwanda
Location in Rwanda
Country Rwanda
Admin. Province Western Province
District Rubavu
 • Total 11 km2 (4 sq mi)
Elevation 1,481 m (4,859 ft)
Population (2012 census)
 • Total 106,335
 • Density 9,700/km2 (25,000/sq mi)

Gisenyi is a city in Rubavu district in Rwanda's Western Province. Gisenyi is contiguous with Goma, the city across the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The population of the city is about 106,000 (2012).[1]


Shoreline at Gisenyi

The city features a resort on the shores of Lake Kivu, with several hotels and three sandy beaches. The area is also known for water sports. The northern shore of the lake on which Goma and Gisenyi lie is a flat plain featuring lava formations from the eruptions of nearby Mount Nyiragongo. In contrast to Goma, Gisenyi escaped the lava flows of both the 1977 and the 2002 eruptions, which destroyed between 15 and 40% of the former. The centre of Gisenyi lies by foothills at the northeast corner of the lake, and low-density expansion is taking place in the hills, which are expected to be safe from future eruptions.

Gisenyi is also home to Bralirwa, the only brewery in Rwanda, which manufactures various local beers — Primus, Mützig, Amstel and Guinness — as well as a range of Coca Cola–branded soft drinks. Gisenyi is a small town compared to neighbouring Goma in the DRC, though Gisenyi is growing quickly. In 2011, a new multistorey shopping mall began construction over an old bus station. As of 2011, the main roads of the town are paved, and sidewalks are nearing completion for most of them as well.

Gisenyi has two borders with Goma, the "Petite Barrière" and the "Grand Barrière". These names are a little misleading because the Petite Barrière is physically larger and features much higher traffic volumes. About 6,000 people crossed the Petite Barrière daily during 2011. On the Gisenyi side, a large customs and immigration office was built with a large capacity, not yet matched by the Congolese facilities. Similarly, the road to the Petite Barrière is paved on the Rwandan side, but not on the Congolese side. The Grande Barrière is paved on both sides and receives more of the heavy truck traffic. It is also a diplomatic border.

During the Rwandan Genocide, the provisional government was based in the city. Gisenyi is the city where Laurent Nkunda — accused by the United Nations of having led an army that illegally recruited Congolese child soldiers[2] — is being held, pending a determination on the DRC's extradition request.


Gisenyi's campus of Kigali Independent University had an enrolment of 3413 students in the 2012-2013 academic year. The students were pursuing programs in the faculties of Economics and Business Studies, Social Sciences, and Law.[3] Rwanda Tourism University College (RTUC) also has a Gisenyi campus. The town has about 30 public and private schools, including nursery, primary and secondary schools.


  1. ^ Rwanda population data, 2012. Accessed 19 March 2015.
  2. ^ DR Congo: UN mission says recruitment of child soldiers is surging, 14 December 2007, UN News Centre. Accessed 19 March 2015.
  3. ^ Sekibibi Ezechiel, Seventeenth Year Book 2013, pages 7 and 10. Kigali: April 2014. Retrieved on 19 March 2015.
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