The Information and communications technology (ICT) sector continues to be one of the top attractions to local and foreign investors as well as one of the top contributors to the country’s gross domestic product.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Youth and ICT presented at the sector’s joint sector review meeting, yesterday, ICT attracted investments worth $ 61 million in the last financial year and is projected to contribute up to $120 million by the end of the current financial year.
The findings noted that the investments in the last year were mostly from the telecom sector and the expansion of 3G and 4G networks in the country.
Part of the expected investments will come from the operationalisation of Kigali Innovation City Project located around Masoro, which will be home to ICT-related firms, as well as the establishment of the ICT innovation fund.
Beyond attracting investments into the country, the sector also increased its impact on sectors such as finance.
The statistics showed that in the last financial year, the value of mobile money transactions reached Rwf691.5 billion up from Rwf330.4 billion the previous year.
Mobile payments were mainly used for cash-in, cash-out and transfer services, representing significant percentages of all values transacted.
In the same period, the accounts for mobile payments service grew from Rwf3.83m to Rwf6.76m. This development was termed as one of the key facilitators of a cashless economy.
In the said period, mobile phone penetration grew to about 73 per cent (up from 53 per cent in the previous year) of the total Rwandan population, while internet penetration was at about 32 per cent by June.
The director-general of ICT in the Ministry of Youth and ICT, Didier Nkurikiyimfura, said the growth in device and internet penetration would facilitate the adoption of e-government services currently being rolled out by the Rwanda online Platform.
So far, seven services are available on the platform dubbed ‘Irembo’ with the ministry projecting that about 40 services will be added in the next financial year.
The services available include; online registration for provisional and definitive driving tests, marriage certificate, application for a birth certificate and application for a criminal record.
Nkurikiyimfura noted that among the sector’s priorities include the roll out of e-government services that would significantly improve service delivery in the country.
He added that the implementation of the Smart Africa Manifesto and the recently adopted Smart Rwanda Master Plan would further accelerate the sector’s growth and its impact across other sectors.
Speaking at the stakeholders’ forum, Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, said the sector had continued to grow in recent years exhibiting potential to place the country as an ICT hub, as well as facilitating the development of meaningful income-generating activities from the sector.
Przemek Praszczalek, the deputy programme officer of USAID, said Rwanda had made progress in the sector in the last decade with milestones like 4G roll out being not only significant to the country, but to the entire continent.
“This being a forum to evaluate the progress achieved so far and to identify the challenges and opportunities, it is important to commend the progress that Rwanda has been able to make over the past years most of which have had an impact beyond the country,” Praszczalek said.
Among the emerging challenges cited include the slow pace of adoption of new technologies and systems by the various agencies.
Stakeholders at the forum called for the need to address the difficulties and challenges experienced when rolling out technology solutions and systems.