CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

Rwanda: KLAB Livens Tech Scene

Rwanda's ICT innovation is quickly gaining momentum due to the fact that some young technology graduates are actively engaged in software applications thanks to kLab innovation centre. The government, through Rwanda Development Board (RDB) plans to set up an ICT park that will host a collection of technological investments including training, industries, research and development, which is in line with supporting technology innovation.

kLab, an open technology hub for IT entrepreneurs located at Telecom House in Kacyiru, provides a platform for developers, IT enthusiasts and interested parties of a growing ICT community to collaborate and innovate.

The innovation centre has formally unveiled its flagship pioneering ICT projects such as crowd funding (eNkunga), Kigalicc app, 'sarura', and unified school system.

The software applications have been developed and implemented by some of its startup IT innovators. "These software applications have been developed to address the enormous community needs by providing easy access to relevant information. We are proud that our start-ups are bearing fruits with the successful implementation of big innovations in the Rwandan ICT sector as kLab tenants," Claude K. Migisha, the General Manager of kLab told The New Times.

He stated that the growing kLab community is also made of experienced mentors who provide both technical and business assistance to needy members. kLab also hosts events, workshops, bootcamp, hackathons and networking sessions to promote partnerships, investment and financing.

Migisha further noted that the innovative mobile web applications represent kLab's contribution to address Rwandan community needs through embracing and proper usage of the open space for collaboration and innovation. At the kLab, IT enthusiasts passionately work on applications, and their mission is to see the hub become like the famed Silicon Valley of the USA. Silicon Valley is home to many of the world's largest technology corporations, like Miscrosoft, Google, Facebook and HP, as well as thousands of small innovative start-ups.

Migisha said that kLab's mission is to promote, facilitate and support the development of innovative ICT solutions by nurturing a vivid community of entrepreneurs and mentors. The Unified School System web application developed by Jean Pierre Habinshuti, an ICT entrepreneur, will help promote the Rwandan education system through facilitating parents to effectively participate in the education of their children. The application is available and accessible to all schools in the country.

"There has been a major problem of lack of standard student progressive report form, so this application will help parents use a unique source comprising a serial number and document authenticity tracking tool to access their children's report forms," explained Habinshuti.

Kigalicc app, developed by Spiderbit Limited, is a free mobile web application that will run on all mobile devices and tablets will enable visitors to Rwanda to access all information regarding restaurants, hotels, entertainment places, taxis and a dictionary, to facilitate them effectively learn and communicate in Kinyarwanda with just a click.

As for 'eNkunga' it is a crowd funding project developed by Zilencio Creativo limited, winner of the best start-up award 2012 in the Startup World competition for the most innovative project.

"eNkunga was conceived following a need to finance individuals and organisations who find the traditional means of financing their ventures too taxing and discouraging," said Ara Nashera, the Director of Zilencio Creativo. Nashera stated that regarding transforming lives in Rwanda, "we can only attribute that to the projects we are yet to see as we shall start with kLab members' projects and then other project owners." "We believe ideas are only great when they have beneficiaries, we are using technology to facilitate ideas to impact our community."

'Sarura', developed by OSCA Connect limited, is an automated voice SMS application to help farmers easily access relevant agriculture information and weather updates through their mobile phones. "We are now working with one cooperative in Kigali for this solution implementation and agriculture institutions to manage the contents. It costs Rwf80 to request for information," said Esther Kunda, the CEO of OSCA Connect Ltd.

Since the establishment of kLab a year ago, Rwandan ICT innovators have increased in number. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 2012 report ranked Rwanda among six developing countries that are most dynamic performers when it comes to ICT development.

Contact email: frank.kanyesigye[at]newtimes.co.rw

Story courtesy of The NewTimes, Rwanda's first Daily.

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