This article connects nested narratives of change in post‐genocide Rwanda to examine how ideas of multi‐scaled crisis and programs of urban transformation take on greater developmental and distributional significance in a context of a complex political economy. Rwandan elites position the country as the ‘Singapore of Africa’ in their state developmental ambitions and environmental regulations, yet urban areas are reeling from the distributional impacts on services, land and affordable housing that these world‐class ambitions carry with them—particularly in the space of the capital, Kigali, and its peripheries. In this article I examine a concatenation of global development expertise, national programs for state transformation, and local planning consequences as urban areas in the country are remapped. What role do programs for urban transformation play in not only remapping the city, but in reconfiguring the political economy of the post‐conflict Rwandan nation‐state? I examine three themes that interconnect on state transformation through urbanization in Rwanda—international planning expertise, state greening and urban peripheralization—and argue for greater contextual attention to the implications of planning in post‐crisis geographies.