Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

9 January 2014

Rwanda: ICT Highlights in 2013

Last year has shown Rwanda as a country committed to ICT, with different activities at national and international level aimed at fostering the digital lifestyle among the people.

Without a doub the biggest event was the Transform Africa summit in Kigali, which gathered in global ICT personalities as well as African Head of State to discuss the role of ICT in the development of the continent.

The summit highlighted the importance of technology for different sectors of life like in health, education, agriculture, etc. and developed an African manifesto which positioned ICT at the core of the development.

Minister of Youth and ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana said that there is a need to look at ICT not just as a tool, but as an enabler for a brighter future. "ICT is more than a tool, it is an environment. ICT is always doing amazing things in Africa and all over the world," he said, calling upon African citizens to get connected to boost development.

Chris Vein, the Chief Innovation Officer for Global Information and Communication Technology Development at the World Bank, observed that there is a need to understand the power of technology and create an enabling system that will allow people to pull themselves out of poverty, contributing to the world's goal to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 and create economic prosperity for developing countries.

Shortly after the Transform Africa summit, Kigali hosted the ICT4Ag conference, which examined how ICT could contribute to the agriculture sector, which still plays a significant role in most African economies.

The ICT4Ag brought together developers from across the region, who presented some applications that can help farmers increase their productivity by having easy access to information through different devices like mobile phones, radios, TVs, etc.

In 2013, the ministry of youth and ICT also launched the "Smart Rwanda" program which stresses the importance of ICT to drive all sectors of life. One of the practical applications of the program was Smart Kigali which among others saw the launch of free Wi-Fi in public places like bus terminals, and inside the buses, hotels, schools and libraries.

The government also got 'smarter,' most notably the ministry of local government which pioneered a video conferencing system to connect local leaders in their districts, thus saving time and money spent travelling to Kigali when the Minister wants to meet the mayors.

YouthConnekt

True to its name, the ministry of youth and ICT used technology to organize the YouthConnekt Hangout meetings where the Minister and various specialists exchanged ideas with youth in various locations through videoconferencing and interaction.

This initiative also won the award for best innovative project in Africa from the United Nations Development Program, as it serves as a platform to connect innovative young Rwandans to participate actively in the country's economic transformation.

"Building the skills of young people, harnessing their energy, and realizing their aspirations will help Rwanda to improve its living standards and foster inclusive economic growth," said Lamin Manneh, the UN resident coordinator for Rwanda. "Empowering them with opportunities to reach and apply their full potential are our most important challenges and our most vital opportunities."

He further attributed the development of the ICT sector in Rwanda to its committed leadership "Rwanda has a digital President and youthful Minister, plus an enabling environment," Manneh noted.

In order to foster the ICT sector in leadership, MYICT has also introduced the e-Government master plan, which is now being examined.

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