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‘Smart Rwanda’ to power ICT for transformation
Source: The New Time Rwanda
Source Date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Rwanda
Created: Jun 18, 2013

The government has started a new initiative that seeks to apply the power of ICT in the development agenda to transform the social and economic development of the country.

The plan, dubbed “Smart Rwanda Days”, is a citizen-centred business-friendly, accessible and sustainable information and service delivery chain, which will be realised through public-private partnership.

To realise Smart Rwanda Days, government, in partnership with the World Bank, yesterday hosted an event to help stakeholders develop a shared vision for the initiative.

The two-day forum brought together global experts in ICT and economy from Africa and beyond, as well as Rwandan ICT enthusiasts to identify possible “Smart” solutions to deliver Smart Rwanda.

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the minister for youth and ICT, said the initiative seeks to leverage the gains made in ICT growth, mainly the available infrastructure, to take the country further.

 “Key to the success of Smart Rwanda is sustainability of all our interventions. Our strategy will be to rely on the much needed private sector resources and capabilities.”

“Smart Rwanda aims at looking at all innovative ways ICT can drive to achieve socio-economic transformation agenda of our country.”

Nsengimana said the scheme would boost productivity of sectors of the economy using ICT, lead to off-farm job creation, improve service delivery and promote rural development.

The government says the plan will specifically focus on achieving “smart healthcare, governance, business, agriculture, environment, job creation and infrastructure,” among others.

World Bank Country Manager Carolyn Turk said the agenda is extremely exciting since it aims at generating solutions to create sustainable change.

“I appreciate Rwanda’s extra-ordinary achievements registered in the ICT sector over the past few years. When you look at mobile penetration and connectivity by broadband, it’s quite outstanding,” she said.

Available statistics from Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Agency show that mobile phone subscribers have reached 6,272,692, indicating that 59.5 per cent of the Rwandan population own mobile phones.

Stressing ICT role

At the forum, Amb. Claver Gatete, the minister for finance and economic planning, said: “We are getting smarter and to understand that there is nothing magical about technology. By using all the knowledge and tools and involving everyone, I think we can make significant progress. If you bring the entire country together and dialogue, it’s very difficult, but in Rwanda we have managed to use the power of ICT to interact with all Rwandans and take ownership together.”

Gatete added: “We need productivity if we want to achieve the 11.5 per cent average GDP by 2020 and this will be realised through the use of ICT in all sectors.”

He said Smart Rwanda was in line with the Second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Paul Kukubo, the chief executive Rwanda East Africa Exchange, said: “Rwanda should look at developing ICT businesses as part of ‘Smart Rwanda’ journey. This initiative is critical since it doesn’t leave any sector behind.” 

He said ICT as a driver of sector productivity, countries should apply it in every transformation agenda.

Dorothy K. Gordon, an economist from Ghana, said the initiative demonstrates good leadership and clarity of vision.

“I really like the Smart Rwanda idea because it addresses the issue of citizen inclusion,” Gordon said.

“We are very much dependent on foreign technologies. It’s very important to have a clear agenda on how we are going to transform that dependency on foreign technologies today to having vibrant ICT businesses that address our local needs.”
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