The ICT revolution has been a result of many waves of technology revolution. From its early use as mainframe computers for scientific research, ICT was applied to the automation of complex business processes.
There is no doubt that a country’s socio-economic growth is positively linked to its ICT development, adoption and adaptation. It is obvious that ICT reduces cost, enhances productivity and adds economic value.
ICT also enables new and improved business processes to deliver products and services with greater effectiveness and efficiency.
The knowledge and skills of the workforce coupled with effective use of technology are critical drivers to improve competitiveness and productivity of a country’s corporation, industries, and ultimately the whole socio-political economy.
From the 1990s, ICT innovation with the advent of the Internet has paved the way for increased market globalisation.
Labour-intensive and low-value operations will continue to go to those countries that offer low-cost but unskilled or semi-skilled workers, with high-value and high-paying jobs going to countries that have the professional and management talent, excellent ICT infrastructure, and a conducive business environment.
Developing countries and Rwanda in particular have much to gain from the revolution in communication and information access.
Rwanda is an emerging economy that has embraced ICT and is steadily succeeding. It is one of the countries too, that have seen sciences, technology and innovation as necessities and not luxuries in the development process.
For a country to develop it must have productive capacities and diversified economies that are essential in the application of knowledge and technology to agriculture, manufacturing and other areas.
Computer and Internet connections are some of the main instruments that are inevitably involved in the process of development.
Rwanda is thus going in the right way and pessimists should re-visit their criticism because the nature of the course Rwanda is following paves way for development.
The 2020 Millennium Development Goals too, can be foreseen in this mirror. The quick spread of internet to all parts of Rwanda gives great promise for the country’s set Millennium Development Goals. The online communication and information can help people meet their needs.
Rwanda as a global audience will benefit from information resources of the world available on the internet. This kind of information would have otherwise been slow and expensive. The economies of the country will greatly benefit from the technology.
In a situation where transport and communication infrastructure for efficient delivery of both physical goods and information services are still not at their best, the alternatives offered by the internet are generally vital.
Rwanda is quickly adapting to computing and networking technology.
One businessman, Gasana Jean-Baptiste who owns a cyber café in Rwamagana, is so convinced that development of technology and more especially the internet connection will lead to development.
“I have been seeing people in numbers queuing to access the internet and I am sure they are gaining a lot in their daily business. These days you do not need to travel to Dubai or Japan to buy a car. Only those who are ignorant about the internet work, still make those risky journeys. I recently ordered a car on line from Japan and I am sure it will be arriving any time. Suppose I was to travel to Japan to buy a single car. Internet has reduced travel risks, costs and time wastage. All these are important to consider when doing business,” Gasana J. Baptiste explained.
However, computers and the related peripherals required for networking are still limited. This explains why the Internet is still used by only a small minority of the country’s population.
But ICT is the dream of every Rwandan and the will can be evidenced by the spread of technological connections in the country.
ICT on the other hand, is extremely essential in promoting social interactions that primarily work as a vehicle through which we can disseminate positive information that affects socio-economic outcomes.
However, as a negative signal, the variation in computer access and ICT skills is leading to a society that is divided by technology.
Those who cannot afford the hardware or lack the confidence to access it are disadvantaged, compared to those who embrace each new advance in the technology everyday.
People who are failing to cope with the technology are being disadvantaged socially, in education and in employment in many ways, some of which are; not being able to use more advanced communication methods such as email, news groups, phone texting (SMS), video phones, chat rooms, bulletin-boards, telecommunications etc. All these are enough to make a person a complete social misfit.
If you therefore feel that you cannot afford to remain conservative and out of race, then the only alternative is to think about going ICT. This calls you to labour hard and stay in the world of technology, a decision that will leave you with enormous advantages. We are slowly and steadily becoming over-dependent on technology and modern communication has become almost instantaneous.
E-mail is cheap and fast and Information and Communication Technology allows documents, photographs and diagrams to be faxed around the world. More and more people are now working from home and this is likely to increase as video-conferencing becomes more and more commonplace.
In communication technology, there have been huge advances in digital communication through satellite and cable television and digital radio. The vast quantity of information available through the Internet requires new skills to search out and select the information needed from the various sources and articles.
The use of mobile phones for instance, is now part of the Rwandan culture. There are now an increasing number of people using mobile phones compared to traditional, fixed lines.
Nevertheless, the low skills and development in technology makes most of the population use the mobile phones mainly in social issues such as keeping in touch with families and friends.
It has however helped a number of people to develop their businesses as mobile phones reduce the risks of movement in different business transactions.
The explosive growth of mobile phone use in Rwanda was fuelled by the bad state of fixed line infrastructure. Most fixed-line networks were limited to towns and were not well-maintained.
Rwandans thus quickly embraced the option to have mobile phones because of the lack of access to fixed-line telecommunications. The pay-as-you go, non-contracted billing system, also attracted many people.
There are certain interesting cultural aspects of the mobile phones in Rwanda and in other developing countries of Africa. Due to low incomes in society and more especially in the rural areas and the city suburbs, people share a single mobile to call and receive messages.
This character that is typical of the traditional African culture of sharing, has acted to put the people together as friends, brothers, sisters, etc. Mobile phones therefore, have helped resurrect the social culture bondages that existed in the traditional African culture in an implicit way.
Rwanda real enjoys a number of connections country-wide and very many people can access the net work. This has eased the administrative work and the general economic development programmes.
The decentralisation process in Rwanda is further facilitated by the ease brought about by network connections (mobile signals). The central government can connect easily to all corners of the country.
This is done without having to move from point ‘A’ to other several points. Even the last man in the chain of decentralisation has a mobile phone and is connected 24 hours. This is of great significance in terms of development. There is, however, a problem associated with this rapid advancement in the technology.
For example, rural consumers who do not have electricity face problems charging their phones; people find it difficult ( in monetary terms) to maintain mobile phones, and also prices of phones are still too high for consumers, let alone the abounding illiteracy in technology.
Rwanda has thus gone a long step ahead in the development of technology. This was as a result of political will on part of the government, and the people’s understanding and thirst to join the developed world. The positive trend we see today should not be reversed but re-enforced further so that we see a Rwanda in the optics of the world Millennium Development Goals.