Young innovators and entrepreneurs have been tasked to use their skills to address problems facing their communities, but above all, ensure that creative and digital innovation continues to thrive.
The call was made Tuesday in Kigali by Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister for Youth and ICT, during an event organised by the ministry together with the Global Innovation Gathering (GIG).
“We are lucky that our government is very supportive in regards to digital innovation and having the youth involved in decision making at all levels of leadership,” he said.
He added that it was through ICT that governments can be more transparent, responsive and accountable to their people.
The event was graced by innovators from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda who presented their works, shared their experiences.
Many issues hindering digital transformation were discussed, including how young innovators and entrepreneurs can be engaged in policy making and dialogue affecting the digital agenda in Rwanda, East Africa and the entire continent.
Nsengimana tasked the young innovators to develop ‘billion dollar’ businesses, adding that it didn’t take much to see this happen as long as there was intellect, innovation and money.
Speaking to the media later, the minister revealed that Rwanda will be represented at the upcoming Smart Cities Innovation Summit that will take place in Austin, Texas in June next year.
It will bring together representatives of 200 cities globally to prospect and partner with innovative technology and service providers whereby progressive cities will be linked with state-of-the-art solutions and best practices.
Geraldine De-Bastion, a freelance consultant based in Berlin, Germany, and an expert in information and communication technology, said that ‘‘despite our geographical locations; nations can share a collaborative economy by sharing various innovative systems so as to solve problems affecting communities.’’
She added that there was no better way to achieve it than by experts already in the field and governments supporting and encouraging young innovators to think more creatively.
Patrick Buchana, CEO and Chairman of AC group Ltd, a technology company that deployed the Tap and Go smart commuter transport system, said that through such innovations, innovators, communities and the government benefit in one way or the other.
He said that before the system was introduced, bus companies in Rwanda were losing 30% of their revenues, there were a lot of delays in transport, accidents, and transport was expensive.
“Today things have changed as there are no more delays, transport is affordable, accidents have decreased since there is control of the whole system in one central location where the driver’s speed and behaviour is monitored and data on how many passengers are carried per bus is easily accessible,” said Buchana.
The dialogue is part of the build-up for the Transform Africa Summit slated for May 2017 and will form a basis of including innovative spaces and perspectives in the broader discourse around digital transformation.