After what seemed like a futile ambition, the automation of Umurenge Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) has finally kicked off. The process which began in 2015 has been characterized by unending challenges and delays from inception to implementation. The Director-General of Rwanda Cooperative Agency, Jean-Bosco Harelimana, told The New Times that after seven months of intensive work, the core banking system for the automation of Umurenge SACCOs is currently in its pilot phase. He said that the pilot phase will involve three SACCOs in different parts of the country; Rutunga in Gasabo District, Rubavu in Rubavu District and Kanombe in Kicukiro district. The pilot phase will take two weeks enabling agencies involved review the effectiveness of the process. Harelimana said that in a month’s time, they will commence nationwide rollout of all 416 SACCOs that is equivalent to all the Sectors in the country, which is likely to take one year. The automation process involves digitizing SACCOs’ data and records from the current manual systems as well as integrating them to the core banking system. This is the first visible progress in the automation process since 2015. In 2015, FinTech – a Kenyan firm, was contracted by the government to help automate Umurenge-SACCOs at the cost of $4.6 million (about Rwf4 billion). The firm was contracted to develop ICT-based system in computers, train the staff to use it and then connect the system in the yet-to-be-established cooperative bank connecting all the SACCOs, according to the terms of reference. However, the company was unable to deliver and their contract was terminated in 2018. In March 2019, the government opened a process to hire another a firm to carry out the exercise upon which 19 firms expressed interest and eight firms were considered. The tasks had been scheduled to commence in May 2019. However, according to the Central Bank, the approach was amended from buying a solution to developing a local relevant solution. The initiative was led by the Ministry of Finance, Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) and Rwanda Cooperative Agency and involved developing a system that is relevant to the local context. The lack of automation has had dire consequences such as misappropriation and theft of funds which consequently led to a distrust of the institutions and low participation. In 2018 National Dialogue Council, it emerged that about Rwf10 billion had been lost to mismanagement, misappropriation, defaulting on loans among other reasons. A task force was set up consisting of the ministries of finance, trade and industry, justice and local governments in collaboration with law enforcement agencies to recover this money. Rwf5 billion had been recovered as of November 2019. Automation will make way for the establishment of a Cooperative Bank bringing together all the 416 Umurenge-SACCOs from across the country. Once complete, the new process will eliminate manual operations, reduce related leakages and theft as well as ease operations of these SACCOs that are based at all sectors.