Lack of affordable housing in urban areas is creating movement of people from the urban area to the periphery resulting in increasing land and housing prices. The major consequences are land use conversion and increasing extent of informal settlement and urban sprawl due to uncontrolled urban expansion. With increasing population and a major dependence on an agriculturally based economy, it is challenging to balance the need for efficient urban land management and housing affordability in Rwanda. 

This study is aimed at analyzing the socio-economic dimensions of land use conversion and its implications for urban land management and housing affordability in Musanze town of Musanze district in the Northern Province. Several indicators were examined such as migration (factors of migrating to the periphery, migration rate and migrants’ place of origin); land use (initial use of land and current use of land); as well as factors of land and housing price increase. To capture the implications for affordable housing, data was obtained from a sample of 120 respondents using a cluster sampling technique and structured interviews. 

The analysis finds evidence of land use conversion and increasing housing prices from the urban centre towards the periphery.  The situation is exacerbated by land speculation in the peripheral areas. Thus, this inside-to-outward town movement of people has serious implications for affordable urban housing in Rwanda. With the higher tendency for low-income earners or poor to move from the city to the periphery in search of cheaper housing and/or land options, towns in Rwanda will ultimately be faced with the twin challenges of spatial and social segregation in housing provision. With further occupation of the urban peripheries, prices of houses located in the periphery are bound to increase as people speculate. The findings presented in the paper suggest the need for further research in this domain.