Fixing Rwanda’s IT problem

All the world lies, but numbers don’t. In that regard, Rwanda is doing—factually—quite well for itself. In other areas, though words may be promising, the numbers are sobering and honest.

All the world lies, but numbers don’t. In that regard, Rwanda is doing—factually—quite well for itself. In other areas, though words may be promising, the numbers are sobering and honest.

Nowhere is this clearer in Rwandan society, economy and narrative than the state of its telecommunication industry.
Rwanda’s investment and—to a certain extent—dependency on the success of its grand internet and technology strategy has brought praise from the world over.

Heralded, somehow, as a ‘second Singapore’
The key for Rwanda is not just assembling high-tech infrastructure and services for forever-potential clients, but rather creating a genuine culture of knowledge and the mobility of knowledge. Rwanda wants to create smart country, not just a ‘smart’ country.

The key to this, along with a sincere interest and decisiveness in education—not simply nice words for nice donors—is a reliable and actually affordable access to the World Wide Web.

How does one get this? How does one bring access to the poor millions when the name of the game for all investors, ultimately, is making money?

As far as in it does not require certain finite resources, the knowledge-sector; computer engineering, software do offer promising, possible futures to build on.

Rwanda, though, should know where it stands in the world today. It has a big, promising, optimistic mouth.

You can’t just have the best; you must produce the best. This is the lesson we learn from small, oil emirates like Dubai and Abu Dabi.

Take this for example—and we can even use it as an example for another one Rwanda’s current ventures, continental air traffic coordination—when you fly in or out of Dubai International Airport, and airport that has become a calling card of the city, what airline do you want to fly on?

Dubai has built a strong brand because its own company is a strong brand.

But why does the Dubai analogy not work fully? Because Dubai, using its oil finances, was able to offer to all 1 million of its citizen’s wealth and first-class social services.

Well over half of the population living in the Emirate is foreign—and many of them illegal—making for ‘grade inflation’ of its success.

Rwanda has no oil, and a lot of people.

The osmosis is reversed, and those with the capability to offer services are often those from outside the borders, and the services they offer are often too expensive for the average person to afford.

So far, the Rwanda IT success story is a myth. Yes, we have made some very serious steps forward, but the concern lies in the gap between what is advertised and what is the reality.

We will not be and IT powerhouse until the power is in all houses. We will not be an IT hub until Gorilla computers start designing truly top-notch, regionally marketable—and locally absorbable—computers.

In what environment, then, does that first necessity reside? When those offering the service do not necessarily live and thrive in the same society as the rest of the country, the quality and state of the service will always be tied primarily to the personal benefit of the individual.

If, let’s say, Greg’s first desire for his internet business is to make boatloads of money, what reason will he have to make his product available to, say again, 98% of the population?

If Rwanda wants be truly and IT powerhouse, and a miracle success story—all things in my mind very possible—it must begin with the necessary legal infrastructure.

Amending the constitution, or passing necessary complimentary laws stipulating the universal accessibility to ‘information’ for all citizens is a prerequisite to any real success.

What does democracy mean in the new Rwanda? It means that all men, developing and developed, are equal in regards to rights to the things that keep them alive. A lack of information kept many people not alive in 1994.

Companies operating here must offer that service at a cost affordable to everyone.

Yes, that means access to the internet will have to be dirt cheap, and yes, companies may not see the business sense in that.

A law providing the real accessibility to information (specifically access to internet) may though drive away the very people who have been offering any service at all.

Nobody respects the beggar.

If I argue with the moto driver over a price and even as I kick and scream he does not budge from his demand, it is shown to be genuine and him respected.

Rwanda must make sure everyone working inside the country understands what environment they work within.


Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper

For news tips and story ideas please WhatsApp +250 788 310 999    


Follow The New Times on Google News