All roads will, today, lead to the Parliament Buildings, Kimihurura, as the Ninth National Dialogue (Umushyikirano) gets underway.
The two-day event, to be chaired by President Paul Kagame, and bringing together government officials, legislators, business leaders, civil society groups, development partners and members of the Rwandan Diaspora, will be aided with the use of ICT, including social media networks.
People will be able to communicate directly with those in the Dialogue by using two toll free phone lines, text service or Twitter and Facebook, the social media platforms. The toll free numbers are 0252585268 and 0252585267, while those on Twitter will be able to air their opinions on @umushyikirano.
In an interview with The New Times, the Director General in the Prime Minister’s Office Ignatius Kabagambe, said that the use of the Internet will ensure that Rwandans everywhere, in and outside the country, will not only follow proceedings but will also contribute directly.
“The proceedings will not only be broadcast live on both the state television and radio, but people will also be able to follow the proceedings live at www.umushyikirano.gov.rw and www.orinfor.gov.rw.
“On top of the live-call ins, people will have the alternative to participate over the two days using Twitter and Facebook, while the text messages will be read out for all to hear during the discussions without any kind of censorship,” Kabagambe said.
According to civil society groups, the opportunity is unprecedented, anywhere, considering that citizens will use various ICT-enabled platforms to directly engage their leaders and voice their opinions and concerns.
In an interview with The New Times, the CEO of Rwanda Governance Board, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, said the use of the various tools to give everyone a chance to participate in the National Dialogue demonstrated the openness of the government.
“It shows how a government can work in total transparency. It demonstrates commitment to total accountability and the fact that there is nothing to hide or censor. It goes beyond just being open but also shows the willingness of a government to interact and engage with its citizens,” Prof. Shyaka said.
The annual event serves as a platform for leaders and citizens to assess the country’s progress, together, and to lay new development strategies for the future.