Rwanda looks to have paperless administration

Rwanda is targeting to have a paperless administration in the future and leveraging ICTs to record government communication documents and keep archives, the Minister for ICT has said.

Rwanda is targeting to have a paperless administration in the future and leveraging ICTs to record government communication documents and keep archives, the Minister for ICT has said.

Jean Philbert Nsengimana made the revelation on Tuesday while meeting members of the Senatorial Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions.

The committee met the minister to discuss the progress of government policies in archives and library services and the role of ICT. This comes after senators carried out field visits in various public institutions to examine the current state of keeping government archives.

Minister Nsengimana said that it is easier to find a document in a computer than in loads of documents in physical repository. The security is also way higher in online copies than print copies, the official told the lawmakers.

“We need all documents to become paperless. All texts will be digital, reducing the number of papers that we use in administration,” he said, explaining that hard copy documents will soon end in government communications.

He said printing documents will no longer be necessary as the digital signature can replace handwriting in coming years, pointing out that digital signature can be even more authentic than signature and stamps on papers.

He insisted that the role of papers in administration in keeping information will decline as trust in IT functions in archiving goes up.

The minister assured that digitising documents cannot cause harm but good, and confirmed that no access to the system for those who are not supposed to get it, not even IT operators.

“IT technicians can have a key to the document as an IT, but they cannot really access what is inside the documents because they would not have the key to read the messages,” he said.

The minister stated that the digitised way of sharing confidential information will not be hacked or accessed illegally as it would be protected by among others, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) security.

The PKI security operates for end-to-end encryption of messages, preventing third-party access in its transmission, where hackers are used to steal information.

The minister said University of Rwanda has recently introduced archives studies, giving more expertise in coming years.

“We had no archiving trainings provided in the country before, but, fortunately, the College of Education has started providing those courses,” he said.

Citing Rwandapedia as an example of the country’s home-grown documentation initiatives, the minister said home-grown solutions should generate income for the country and that digital archiving can be pivotal in the process.

The minister also said that monitoring, security, and regulation for the historical documents repository is necessary and that there is nothing to worry about as it will be taken care of.

The government set up Rwanda Archives and Library Services Authority (RALSA) in 2014 as an important source of learning about Rwandan culture, history and society through archives and libraries.

Its mission is to safeguard, preserve, and share the historical records of Rwanda and it is  responsible for the coordination of the country’s national archives, collection of historical records from public and private institutions and their preservation and accessibility.

The chairperson of the senatorial Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions, Gallican Niyongana, said assessing the current state of keeping government archives was initiated to see how the country could better implement its policies on effective collection of records and keeping them for future generations.

He said that the records will be needed in the future to understand what is getting done currently so they can constitute the basis on which to initiate future activities for sustainable development.