One of my friends had the opportunity to work on National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) 2010 as one of eight resource people: Its implementation is done through four NICI Plans: NICI 2005 covers the years 2001-2005, NICI 2010 covers the years 2006-2010, NICI 2015 covers the years 2011-2015, and NICI 2020 covers 2016-2020.
We are now in the period covered by NICI 2010. These NICI Plans are the main drivers for Vision 2020 launched by the Government at the beginning of the 21st Century.
Vision 2020 aims at making Rwanda a middle income country with a knowledge-based economy and society.
NICI 2010 Plan is almost 2 years old. It is included in a big and nicely bound book. Its architects and editors did a fantastic job of detailing the plan in an easy to read style.
It is very surprising to find that very few people inside and outside the Government have read it. Even more surprising, fewer people understand it.
Most people understand that we want to go from an economy dominated by subsistence agriculture to a knowledge-based economy but very few people understand what this means in practical terms.
I asked my friend to help clarify where we are coming from and where we are going. My friend was very excited and eager to talk about the development model behind NICI 2010.
He asked me permission to rename it Gahindiro’s 7-step Development Ladder. I enthusiastically granted him permission to associate my name with the model.
Here is what my friend told me:
“Before I was asked to work on NICI 2010 as a volunteer, I had already developed a Development Model that seemed very promising as a basis for NICI 2010.
I called it X’s 7-step Development Ladder. As the name implies, it was a linear model.
Having seven other smart guys in the NICI 2010 resource persons, we decided to improve the development model by adding multiple parallel paths that run along the ladder. This is what is at the heart of NICI 2010 Plan.
However the original 7-step Development Ladder provides the best explanation of what NICI 2010 Plan is trying to achieve. We will call it here Gahindiro’s 7-step Development Ladder.
The 8 pillars of development used by NICI 2005 were:
(1) Human Resource Development
(2) Promotion of ICT in Education
(3) Facilitating Government Administration and Service Delivery
(4) Developing and Facilitating the Private Sector through ICT
(5) Development and Spread of ICT in the Community
(6) ICT Infrastructure Development
(7) Legal, Regulatory and Institutional Provisions and Standards
(8) Attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
For each of these 8 pillars, the objective is to make Rwanda a developed country and an ICT hub for East and Central Africa.
This can be achieved by using the ICT-powered Gahindiro’s 7-step development ladder to pull the underclass into the middle class.
The 7-step ladder is a roadmap showing how to use ICT to achieve development goals in a timely manner. The 7-step ladder uses ICT as an enabler and an accelerator in the pursuit of development objectives.
The assumption underlying this plan is that a consensus will be found quickly around the suggested model of development. The model of development is designed around the central idea of creating a big and highly competent middle class that uses ICT as a tool for increasing productivity in public and private sectors and for creating exportable goods.
Model of development
The Gahindiro’s 7-Step Development Ladder was developed in Rwanda, in April 2005, after a detailed look at Rwanda’s economy and Rwanda’s society in 2004 and 2005.
In Rwanda, there is a tiny elite (less than 10,000 people), a very small middle class (less than 90,000 people) and a very large under-class (more than 8 million people).
Members of the elite have an income greater than $1,000 per month; members of the middle class have an income less than $1,000 and greater than $80 per month; the under-class has an income less than $80 per month, i.e. less than $4 per day.
The great majority of the under-class has an income less than $1 per day and has very little formal education.
The development strategy major objective is to move half the under-class (the half that can read and write Kinyarwanda) into the middle class by 2010, i.e. raise their income to at least $4 per day.
The 7-step development ladder uses ICT as the power tool of choice to achieve a development stage in a timely manner; ICT is used as an accelerator for reaching quickly the development stage.
Gahindiro’s 7-step development ladder
Step 1: The underclass needs to understand the ICT tool; as the underclass speaks only Kinyarwanda, there is a need for ICT that speaks Kinyarwanda.
Linux or Windows in Kinyarwanda; Office Productivity Tools in Kinyarwanda; Skill-oriented software tools that speak Kinyarwanda. This is achieved by pillar #2 “Promotion of ICT in Education” and pillar #4 “Development and Promotion of Private Sector through ICT”.
Step 2: The underclass needs practical training in a minimum amount of time, i.e. training that leads to immediate action and results; ICT can help by interactive and online (internet) learning followed by hands-on application under the supervision of knowledgeable mentors.
This should take place in one of 30 centres of ICT Institute.
Each of the 30 Rwandan districts should be home to one of these centres. This is achieved by pillar #1 “Human Resource Development” and pillar #4 “Development and Promotion of Private Sector through ICT”.
Step 3: The underclass lives on rural hills and needs a place to access ICT (e-mail, voice-mail, internet, telephone, messages, ICT training); 1000 hills require 1000 telecentres (4 low-energy desktop or notebook computers running Linux or Windows in Kinyarwanda, one Tuvugane phone, one refurbished printer/FAX, one low-cost national internet connection node). This is accomplished by pillar #5 “Deployment and Spread of ICT in the Community”.
Step 4: After acquiring practical skills, the underclass needs to get jobs, make more money and join the middle class; this requires the use of internet to find the jobs that correspond with the skills acquired; online continuing education; slow but steady migration to the middle class. This is accomplished by pillar #5 “Deployment and Spread of ICT in the Community”.
Step 5: As the middle class grows and the competition for existing jobs heats up, the enlarged middle class needs to create its own jobs.
It needs an ICT-powered Government administration that does not waste time, is not arrogant and does not misplace filed documents.
It needs a streamline process of creating and registering companies; it needs access to Business Plans advisors; it needs access to loans and equity funding; it needs a simplified, fast and accurate process of paying taxes online; it needs streamlined Customs procedures; it needs transparency and accountability in Government; it needs appropriate laws to create a level playing field and it needs an ICT-powered easy access to those laws and regulations.
This is accomplished by pillar # 3 “Facilitating Government Administration and Service Delivery” and pillar #7 “Legal, Regulatory and Institutional Provisions and Standards”.
Step 6: Rwanda is a small market; it gets quickly saturated; the growing middle and upper classes turn to the export markets; they need ICT-powered information on those markets; they need ICT-powered communication infrastructure to research those markets and communicate with potential foreign partners and clients. This is accomplished by pillar # 6 “ICT Infrastructure Development”.
Step 7: As the production increases to satisfy foreign markets, it becomes easier to attract foreign direct investments (FDI) and there is an opportunity and a need to pull the remaining underclass into the job market and increase their chance to join the middle class. This is accomplished by pillar #2 “Promotion of ICT in Education”.
For step 7, the pillar #2 is used as follows: Rwandan engineers will develop software to teach the illiterate underclass to read and write Kinyarwanda; the method used is the same method used to teach kids in developed countries to read and write using computerized gadgets.
This method would use the community telecentres on the hills and the instructors could be people with a 6th grade education at an extremely low cost. The pillar #2 would bring the remaining underclass to the required knowledge for step #1.
Attracting FDI is accomplished by pillar #8 Attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).”
Now that you understood Gahindiro’s 7-step Development Ladder, NICI 2010 Plan should be an easy read.