ICT has been designated as a key component in the country’s economic transformation, with various accompanying systems under development being key to this journey.
The transformation is expected to be fast tracked by embracing the move to a paperless environment within Rwanda. In this interview , The New Times’s Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah spoke to Hassan Lumumba Rucyemangabo the CEO of ‘Intego’ Award winning, Telcom House based Dash –S Technology inc. on the prospects of this ambitious journey.
TNT: The move towards a paperless environment within Rwanda. How is this attainable in relation to the bigger picture of having an ICT based economy?
R.H: The paperless environment comes with lots of advantages. For one the automation of business processes comes into play here. Records and documentation management automation carries with it decision-making inputs.
If this process is automated then the decision making process becomes faster. There is thus efficiency in decision making process.
In turn due to efficiency productivity is enhanced. The second advantage is the environmental angle whereby we will be countering the destruction of our fragile nature.
Cutting down trees for paper production is in itself harmful. Coming up with measures to correct this is a worthwhile gesture.
TNT: How does this move dovetail with the country’s ICT aspirations?
R.H: The vision is to make Rwanda an ICT based economy. Rwanda is not well endowed with certain forms of natural resources. For instance we are a land locked economy which is a constrain of sorts in terms of other economic aspects.
But in terms of ICT we are not landlocked. If we are able to do the best in terms of what we have, like boosting the readily available human resource capacities to enhance productivity through ICT then we can easily become competitive regionally and even internationally.
TNT. Your company is one of the market leaders actually the champions of this move. What is the market response so far?
R.H: The market response is not what we would want it to be. Because we are talking about new technologies, new things which take people a lot of time to understand and embrace. So absorption takes quite some time.
However this is where we all are headed. The sooner we embrace this form of technology the better it is for us. In this way we will overcome some of the constrains we currently are facing.
TNT. Outline some of the projects you have undertaken so far.
R.H: We have implemented quite a number of projects. We have for instance implemented within the justice sector an electronic records and documents management system at the national public prosecution agency.
In this we have automated their mail room and digitized their paper documents for easy access of information by various parties. We have thus automated their business process.
Within academia we have implemented a digital library management system at National University of Rwanda to enable students and researchers to access materials within no constrains .
We have also digitized books for the national curriculum development centre to editable formats so that these can be enriched in the event that the country decides to change the curriculum.
We have within the health sector implemented computed radiography systems which enables one to capture an x-ray digitally.
The intent is to enable experts to provide diagnosis and prescription with out geographically having to move patients.
TNT. Qualified personnel would definitely be one of the challenges you face. What is your response to this nagging headache within ICT?
R.H: I think this is a global constrain as it is not only unique to Rwanda. Even the first world countries are affected. So the main issue is do we really have the personnel with the potential to learn?
In that case I think we do. In Rwanda you cannot fail to get those who are eager to learn this new way of doing things. Personally I had to learn this sort of new profession. Hence this is all about learning and having the quest for learning.
More so all our employees are locals but our emphasis as a company is to have them well trained.
TNT. As Rwanda integrates within the EAC where does this move place us comparatively with the other countries?
R.H: It means that we are the regional leaders in this new industry. Meaning that we are comparatively ahead and we are no longer constrained by our geopolitical location.
In effect this means that as we gain in terms of efficiency we will be in a position to greatly enhance our productivity systems across board.
TNT. Are costs not prohibitive as mostly the technology deployed being new and novel means that such types are likely to be costly for local clientele who are overly cost conscious ?
R.H: This is a challenge but not an impediment. Challenges are daily occurrences in life but in this it depends on how you look at it. Even if the deployment costs could be high the return on investment is very quick to attain.
In that case it ceases being a question of what in terms of costs but a question of when in terms of returns.
TNT. Your company was a recipient of the inaugural ‘Intego’ awards. How do you position your company far apart from the rest of the pack within the local ICT industry?
R.H: In fact we were very surprised by this award bestowed to us. For one thing we are not even halfway done in relation to where we want to be.
To us it thus shows the response to the technology we are advancing within the market.
The onus is on us to sensitize the public about the technology we are championing and how they stand to gain from our deployments and related offerings.
TNT: Local value addition is very important when you talk about technology transfer for this kind of work. Are you able to do that while going about your job?
R.H: The fact that we are able to implement and support for the purposes of sustainability these kinds of systems locally simply shows that capacity building has definitely taken place.
For instance we don’t really have to bother with our overseas partners to offer us support as we have trained local man power within all our working sites
TNT: Is this move overly ambitious given the cost and related constrains?
R.H: It is not. It is simply the right thing to do. These are technologies which will simplify our work.
The end result is that we will have recouped our costs while being able to tackle our constrains some of which I had earlier on alluded to.
The end result is better service delivery within the entire economy.