The two-day high power Connect Africa Summit here in Kigali is going to deliberate on how to use Information Communication Technology most effectively to achieve the Millenium Development Goals for Africa.
It is important that this summit bears juicy fruits for the participating countries and Africa in general, because working ICT policies and programmes are what we need mostly for developing our struggling economies. In basic terms Africa looks at ICT and compares it to machines versus human labour – very fast, efficient, smart, and gets a mountain of work done in a second.
The man on the street sometimes gets confused by the hype that is attributed to the importance of ICT to development, and it takes concrete examples to convince him that it is worth the pursuit that the government is putting into it.
Two weeks ago the MTN service providers in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania decided that their subscribers should never have to change SIM cards when traveling to any of those countries, and launched the Rwandan version of Home and Away.
Only one number is now used, and this was and still is a very exciting and noble prospect for business people who no longer have to fidget changing sim cards on landing at airports or crossing borders.
This is a very small but physical achievement that relates easily to even the man on the street, which he will support, but will never know is what is called commonly referred to as part of ICT.
And there lies the challenge: what packages can be made possible first, without having to look at the very developed countries as examples?
Rwanda would be very glad to get cheaper and faster internet services for starters. It is our prayer that the complications that make this impossible be shot down in the summit so that work progresses as fast as elsewhere