Rwanda joined a global conversation in the UNDP’s Social Good Summit this week to discuss how young entrepreneurs can harness the power of technology and social media to accelerate development goals.
The three-day Social Good Summit is held annually during the United Nations General Assembly Week to engage citizens from around the world on local and global challenges. Kigali hosted the summit from September 22 to 24 for the second year in a row.
The theme for this year’s summit is #2030now - a challenge for youth to imagine the world they want in 2030 and develop innovations that can help create it.
The idea is to expand on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which aim to improve social issues such as poverty and education by 2015. The summit helps build on UN efforts to create a post-2015 development agenda.
On Monday, a panel of Rwandan information and communications technology experts met at the National Library Services in Kacyiru to connect via a live-streaming video chat with students from four universities across the country.
The panel focused on a main question: will the solutions we are creating in today’s digital world truly have a lasting impact on our future and how are we paving the way for the next generation of innovation?
Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister for Youth and ICT, offered a policy perspective on creating and sustaining technological innovations in Rwanda.
Nsengimana identified five policy priorities to help enable innovations; investments in services; private sector involvement; connecting rural areas; emphasising education; and shifting from ICT development to ICT for development.
“It’s a shift from connecting to transforming. At this point the youth need to be hard working. You have the entire Internet on your fingertips,” said Nsengimana.
Panelists also stressed the importance of education to help create the next generation of innovation in Rwanda.
Panelist Akaliza Keza Gara, founder of Shaking Sun, a website development company, emphasised a need for schools across Rwanda to introduce youth to technology.
“Distributing laptops to schools can have a huge impact by helping an entire generation become comfortable using technology, ideally from a very young age,” said Gara.