One cannot help but look on with wonder at a phenomenon when, with a single stroke of a pen, an individual manages to transform millions of lives for the better. This is what has essentially happened with President Paul Kagame’s promise of $1 million specifically for buying a computer for every sector.
Not that we haven’t had such individuals before, giving to humanity so much, much more than this. People like Bill Gates and the American president’s PEPFAR programmes have defined life and death existences in the whole world. But we are talking about a leader spending not so much money, but knowing so well how to spend it, that the decision leaves one gasping in admiration.
He has done it before, but this particular decision to equip sectors with computers connected to the internet fully defines Rwanda’s seriousness and desire to be an ICT powerhouse for itself first, then the entire region later. Like a surgeon’s scalpel going direct to the boil, President Kagame’s directly addresses the ICT problem, and his computer offer to the sectors, most of which are geographically in the countryside, effectively makes all the rural areas ‘connected’.
Some people understand being connected to the internet in negative terms, but everyone understands that being connected is having the world’s information and knowledge at your fingertips. The opportunities are simply vast for the rural population now, and it becomes difficult to even begin saying how they are to benefit.
But look at the exchange of information that will improve a thousand-fold: government reports will be relayed at a mere touch of a finger; government policies will be disseminated cheaply and faster; downloading development-related information will be the order of the day. Look at this too: there are small-scale chicken and livestock farmers who need the services of a veterinary officer only when the problem is very bad; but for their needs of identifying the problem with their stock, they refer to the net, which also quickly provides them with the appropriate medication and proper dosage.
It is easy to become transported with ecstasy when lauding the value of the internet in the rural areas. We have you to thank for this joy, Mr President.