The New Times (Kigali)

4 July 2012

Rwanda: The Future Is Already Here

opinion

"The future is here - it's just not very evenly distributed." These are the words of science fiction American-Canadian writer, William Ford Gibson. He was alluding to technological inventions in different parts of the world, most way ahead of their time.

It is unfortunate though, that these inventions are in very limited quantities and in few locations, and most of the world doesn't know about them yet.

I find Gibson's quote applicable on so many levels, going further than technology. I was mulling over it recently, but in the context of Rwanda and its future, during celebrations to mark 50 years of national Independence and 18 years of liberation. In Rwanda, I like to think that the kind of "future" which is already here, but not evenly distributed (yet) - is in the manner in which we think.

It is a mindset, a way of looking at the world and at ourselves as part of it, and effecting change and progress based on this frame of mind.

I know of people, most of them young Rwandans, who embody this way of thinking and are doing great things, some ahead of their time. It seems most of them are armed simply with an attitude of "...and why not?" Indeed, if the rest of the world is doing it, why not create mobile phone applications in Rwanda? If the developed world is digitising written documents, why not try and digitise archived documents in Rwanda's Ministry of Justice?

If the most developed world can create a playground for technological inventors in the form of Silicone Valley, why not have a similar environment for young Rwandans? These are but some of the things happening on the landscape of Rwanda's future.

The question is, how do we distribute this way of thinking and doing things? How do we make infectious and attitude amongst young Rwandans that enables them to create a better future, equipped simply with a mindset of self-belief and possibility? This way of thinking is already here, how do we spread it across Rwanda?

It is interesting to note that for the first time in Rwanda, its young generation has a leadership that is committed to nurturing and supporting this type of mindset. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we have a present and a future that doesn't consist of fleeing across countries, of persecution, fear or nepotism.

On the contrary, Rwanda's present generation has the luxury of genuinely creating and innovating for change - be it in the field of technology, services or industry. Right now, various creations are taking place, systems of thinking being formed - bringing Rwanda's future to its present. The mindset through which we do such things is what needs to be evenly distributed across Rwanda.

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