ICT in development is a dream come true

When Rwanda decided, a few years ago, that its future lay in embracing information technology, many thought it was a far-fetched idea for a country that had only 20,000 fixed telephone lines.

When Rwanda decided, a few years ago, that its future lay in embracing information technology, many thought it was a far-fetched idea for a country that had only 20,000 fixed telephone lines.

When it went a step further and demonstrated her intention to turn into a regional Information Communication Technology (ICT) hub, it gave rise to cynicism; that that the country was punching above its weight. 

Now, everywhere you go, you are likely to trip over fibre optic cables that are snaking up to the most remote corners of the country. The sceptics are now sitting up and taking notice.

Rwanda’s propensity to come up with home grown solutions has inevitably reached the ICT domain. Right now, there is a countrywide operation to distribute free mobile phones to community health workers in each village.

These phones are not only used to exchange vital information with the central government, they are also used to call for ambulances via Short Message Service (SMS) and saving lives.  These phones have been credited with reducing Infant and maternal mortality rate, so significantly, that world bodies rate it very highly and is a recommended case study.

The one lap top per child programme and strengthening ICT in schools are other innovations that could turn this country into the Silicon Valley of Africa in the next decade.

It is alright to dream big, but it is better to pursue the dream  and turn it into reality. That is exactly what this country has been doing, with success.

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