Is Gasabo District headquarters the last legacy of a government building?

Whether these current examples are appropriate or new designs for planning are needed with the rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning and high-speed connectivity, is not certain.

As the Rwandan government has already realized, the soon-to-be-present, 5G Internet, will further the rapid development of the country.

This is seen with the efforts to computerize much of the government functions as exemplified by increasing focus on a cashless society, through ensuring more and more public services are being accessed online through portals like Irembo.

Online accessibility to public services is actively pursued, not just in the “developed” countries but also in countries such as India, which contemplates opening up its central bank to every citizen in the country using secure identification.

The deep penetration of mobile money platforms such as M-Pesa and now the expanded ability of these providers to offer banking functions such as savings accounts is the tip of the changes to be expected.

The entrance of Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and other online merchants providing these expanded services competes with the traditional banking institutions.

As with mobile banking, the ability of individuals, including the unbanked, to add accounts, make micro loans and globally transfer funds is changing the world of banks to “banking” and causing many banks with distributed branches to close or reduce the physical presence in the face of smart phone services.

It challenges other exclusionary and high cost services such as micro finance.

The development of the Internet and artificial intelligence, including machine intelligence has been seen to increasingly displace workers. This has largely been seen in manufacturing facilities, subject to automation.

Yet, many companies such as Amazon are finding that along with intelligent machines there is a need to expand their hiring of workers with basic skills that can be “upscaled”.

In fact many are adding educational programs that also can provide credit toward advanced certification and degrees, complementing and even bypassing traditional educational programs.

Futurists increasingly identify college degreed individuals and professionals with advanced degrees as subject to job disruption by artificial intelligent systems. The current concern, particularly for Rwanda, is the cohorts now employed in the broad area of the middle and upper management.

That will include many of the positions held in government agencies. It will impact not just the personnel but current and planned physical facilities such as the recently constructed Gasabo District headquarters.

One notes the recent effort in the United States to move personnel out of the Washington offices and into the field where they are closer to their areas of specialisation.

As noted, above, the rapid deployment of 4G and, soon, 5G speeds, in Rwanda, will give these newly assigned persons global access to data bases as well as experts formally brought into the country at increasing costs at a time of reduced funding both internal and external.

This parallels, closely, what is being seen in the US banking sector with the repositioning and reduction of personnel, as well as in the reduction of duplications in branch offices.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the US’s Apollo mission to the moon with its first use of computers on “chips” where, today, that power is exceeded in the continually decreasing cost of “smart” cell phones.

The global efforts to make research and general information accessible to all, including the public such as citizens in Rwanda, points to important changes in educational needs for all in how to access and use this wealth as well as how professionals are trained to work more effectively with their constituents.

This includes all traditional areas including technical support, health care, social services and professional services such as business and finance.

It disrupts the entire education and government service systems as seen in just the efforts of the Rwanda Development Board’s support of business.

It requires that the post secondary education system reconsider how students are educated whether for employment in the public and private sectors as well as how academic faculty are trained, teach and conduct research.

Renewable energy, such as solar, is decentralised. It is a perfect technology for a society that, due to the rise of AI/Internet systems, will start to decentralize where people live and work.

It starts to balance the global problem of the rural/urban divide as the nature of work changes and becomes more decentralized. It impacts on transportation needs and services such as health care.

As we are seeing, globally, the ability to rapidly bring products and services such as mobile food and goods delivery expands and changes the demand on the need to move people via public and private transport.

Of import is that this shift changes urban/rural planning, reducing the concentration in urban areas potentially reducing the heat island and other pollution, opening up green spaces and decrease the need to create energy intensive construction techniques including paving over scarce land.

Rwanda has its development programmes which will need to be rethought to take advantage of the new opportunities while having to resolving the redeployment and reeducation of the soon-to-be-displaced workers in the government’s own house, ranging from maintenance to upper level administration.

But the shift to balance the rural/urban divide should provide the opportunities not offered to many countries with a larger legacy culture in both the public and private sector.

As noted above, this implies how existing infrastructure, including buildings and the land are appropriately redeployed. It also requires consideration of future planning and construction where there are new options and resurrection of extant ideas, globally to respond to evolving current and future needs for all sectors from housing to offices and industrial facilities.

Whether these current examples are appropriate or new designs for planning are needed with the rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning and high-speed connectivity, is not certain. Perhaps “concrete” may limit thinking.

Rwanda’s constitution permits and encourages citizen participation from the local level upward.

The decentralisation of the concentrated talent in Kigali, while balancing the urban/rural divide, should increase the talent across communities and accelerate entrepreneurial efforts to benefit the country, from improvement of services such as schools and health care to a more connected and active citizen participation in the future of Rwanda.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.