RE: “Decoding the digital revolution for Africa” (The New Times, April 19).
This is an intellectual stimulating article. To walk the talk, we need to link the IT disruptive ecosystem to Made in Rwanda. The good news is all stakeholders (government, private sector and even civil society) in our country are now embracing the idea more and more.
The technologies you mentioned like Uber and Airbnb are software afterwards but considerable capital was poured into their development and the results speak for themselves. These are companies above $1 billion in annual revenues. Let us not forget they were developed in the Silicon Valley where capital, skills and access to market is a way of life.
Here is what I think needs to be done in Rwanda, and to some extent on our continent:
1) All public tenders in ICT must have local content and not just local brokers (“commissionaires”) if we want real and transformative knowledge transfer;
2) Most IT startups will have for collateral their laptops and the intellects/ideas so startup fund in terms of debt or equity should be more easily accessible. After all, it’s a numbers game. If 10 startups get Rwf100 million seed funding and only 3 succeed and become localized unicorns with Rwf1 billion revenue per year, I call it success in terms of job creation and accumulated experience.
3) Failure in business should be considered as a way of life. For the 7 “losers”, the experience gained can pivot in the next round into a potential unicorn. A failed entrepreneur shouldn’t be ostracized but empowered to go out there and try again.
4) What is our competitive advantage in ICT if we want to integrate in regional and global supply chains? We need to clearly identify, articulate and execute on it with all stakeholders involved.
5) Last but not least, our education system needs to be in sync with both industries and startups.
We are leaving in exciting times...