Rwanda is now proudly the thirteenth member of RANET, that dynamic international initiative which makes available information relating to weather and climate to the populations of subscriber countries.
Started by the African Centre for the Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) and University of Oklahoma in 1999, the RANET project is operational in Africa at different levels of involvement in many countries and pilot activities in Asia and the Pacific.
Courtesy of the national meteorology service, Rwandans, including rural communities, will have timely access to climate information and other developments. And they will obtain the information in their own language, through use of innovative technologies and working with partners.
The timing of the installation of this satellite radio and internet facility could not have been better. With the increasing irregularity of seasonal rains, climate information is useful to farmers. They will now make more informed decisions on when to plant seeds and choosing what crops and varieties to ensure household food security and incomes.
The next step should be bringing on board as many partners as possible, such as different government departments. The other entities to consider approaching for sustainable ccoperation are Non Governmental Organisations and Community Based Organisations in the local communities, addressing challenges like food shortages and poverty reduction.
If handled meticulously, this development can give the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy a much-needed shot in the arm. It has come at a time when EDPRS is seriously working on plans to put in place irrigation schemes to neutralise the effects of droughts. Resources involved in starting it may necessitate that it takes a bit long to materialise, but at least in the meantime the weather forecast innovation will make a difference.
It is a step forward in the government mission to aid day-to-day decisions and prepare against natural hazards. The networks it will create are in line with the national agenda of making advancement in Information Technology one of the key engines to deliver the Vision 2020 targets to Rwanda.
The tourism industry gets a boost from this as well. Visitors coming from countries where weather forecast is like a right to citizens will find the predictability an added incentive in deciding on Rwanda as their destination, to stay longer or come again.
Even social events organisers will have more fitting budgets, with less miscellaneous portfolio, to present to clients. Knowing that it will not rain on a Friday afternoon may not require hiring a tarpaulin for a cocktail.