Rwanda has borrowed more $100 million from Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB) to broadband and digitalise public services The loan agreement worth approximately Rwf100 billion was signed between the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the bank on December 23. It will fund Rwanda’s US$200 million Digital Acceleration Project, which is co-financed with World Bank. The project aims to support Rwanda’s short and long-term recovery from the pandemic and build the country’s resilience to future pandemics by increasing access to quality broadband, digital public services, and a digital innovation ecosystem. The Minister of ICT and Innovation Paula Ingabire said this a push in the back towards realising the country’s vision to become a digital economy. “While we are already cashing in on past investments in ICT and leveraging existing digital infrastructure, this financing agreement is a timely commitment that will allow us to further develop our broadband market and enhance Rwanda’s digital innovation ecosystem.” The project seeks to enhance government’s ability to deliver digital services by equipping it with the capacity to harness the power of big data and develop at least 30 new or upgraded digital services through large-scale investments in shared digital standards, platforms, and infrastructure. It has four main components namely; Digital Access and Inclusion, Digital public service delivery, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Project Management. According to officials, the project will directly support at least 300 digital start-ups, with a focus on those that are female-owned, to position the country for a data-driven and e-service based economy. Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said: “The project will complement Government of Rwanda’s efforts in recovery and resilience to and post covid-19 pandemic and in implementing the National Strategy for Transformation, with a focus on the priority to establish Rwanda as a globally competitive knowledge-based economy”. Najeeb Haider, AIIB’s Director General of the Banking Department, said; “this marks the first digital acceleration investment the bank is making in sub-Saharan Africa, It is also the second project we are funding in the region and both happen to be in Rwanda. We believe that these are first steps towards a long term development relationship between Rwanda and the Bank.” Rwanda became a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank a year ago and has so far accessed financing worth $200 million to fund two key projects namely; the Economic Recovery Fund and the just signed Digital Acceleration Project.