The transformation of Rwanda to be the Information Communication technology (ICT) hub of Africa is taking great strides as witnessed in this closing year.
This year major events to streamline the ICT sector in the country and the region at large were at the centre stage in the country as government moves forward to promote the use of ICT in national development programs.
2011 has seen the sector move a step to the next level due to much support and government backing to make this goal a reality.
Kagame, Slim push for affordable Broadband
President Paul Kagame and fellow co-chair of the Broadband Commission, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, called on global leaders to address the broadband connectivity challenges during the Broadband Leadership Summit.
The Summit that was convened in Kigali in September aimed at charting ways of ensuring accessibility and affordability of broadband to the public as the connectivity challenges were highlighted during the meeting.
Both President Kagame and Slim emphasised the need to ensure accessibility and affordability of broadband, as the two proved to be the main challenges expressed by the youth and stakeholders during the high level meeting.
The Head of State pointed out that the meeting that drew youth representatives from the continent, global broadband providers and ICT experts from around the world, aimed at identifying the challenges of accessing broadband or the lack of it.
5 year ICT plan unveiled
The National ICT Plan (NICI 3) 2011-2105 that focuses on service development was launched in the middle of 2011.
The plan basically describes how Rwanda is going to move from an agricultural-based economy to a knowledge-based economy.
According to Ignace Gatare, the Minister in the office of the President in charge of ICT, the plan focuses on service delivery where all institutions will work together using the already existing infrastructure.
“We have several infrastructure developments in place such as Fibre optic cable, ICT buses, Tele-centres, wireless broadband services, among others, now let’s make use of them,” he said.
In 2000, the government launched the National ICT Plan (NIC). The plan was formulated as taking place over four five year phases. The first, from 2000 to 2005, focused on the creation of a fertile, enabling environment in Rwanda for ICTs initiatives to take hold. The second, from 2006 to 2010, placed emphasis on the development of key ICT infrastructure such as the laying of fibre optics cables and other ICT infrastructures.
Gov’t, Visa Inc. partner to streamline e-banking
The government of Rwanda represented by the Central Bank in partnership with Visa Inc. recently announced a wide-reaching charter of collaboration to modernize electronic banking system using visa global payments technology.
The Central Bank Governor, Ambassador Claver Gatete said that the collaboration between the Government of Rwanda and Visa is an opportunity to increase efficiency and inclusion through the use of electronic financial services.
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency.
“In all economies, well developed financial systems are essential for sustained economic growth,” Gatete said.
Elizabeth Buse, Group President, Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, Visa Inc., said creating public-private partnerships is also a key component of Visa’s global growth strategy.
“We are deploying our unique expertise and assets to bring the benefits of electronic payments and banking to emerging markets like Rwanda,” she said.
The Charter of Collaboration covers 12 initiatives structured around three key areas such as laying the foundations for electronic payments, promotion of electronic payments innovation, and capacity building – Develop training programs and facilitate knowledge-transfer in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of financial systems throughout the country.
Carnegie Mellon university announces its entry
The American University Carnegie Mellon University (CMI) announced its entry in Rwanda, the institution focuses on boosting the development of ICT in the country.
Carnegie Mellon, a top US varsity, will establish and operate an academic programme in Kigali, initially offering a Master of Science in ICT programme, starting from next year.
With a history of excellence in higher education and as a global leader in technological innovation, Carnegie Mellon is the first U.S research institution offering degrees in Africa with an in-country presence.
The institution will bring in a very high level of expertise in some of the priority areas within the ICT sector which will contribute towards making Rwanda an investment destination for big international companies.
e-Soko wins continental award
The e-Soko project in the middle of this year won the Africa Award for promoting Information Communication Technology (ICT) in Rwanda, during the 3rd Technology in Government in Africa (TIGA) Awards held in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia.
During the colourful event held in Addis Ababa- Ethiopia organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Finland government, the ICT project was recognized as a model innovative project in Africa that has helped Rwandan farmers access market prices.
e-Soko is an electronic platform which provides farmers, consumers and traders up-to-date market price information for commodities using mobile phones.
“The project, implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, is a vital economic tool that increases access to market information for both farmers and consumers thereby increasing efficiency preventing price gouging,” said Patrick Nyirishema, the Head of ICT at RDB in a statement.
TIGA Awards recognise African Governments’ effective use of ICTs for public service delivery, as part of fulfilling ECA’s African Information Society Initiative (AISI) and the Government of Finland’s Development Cooperation Strategy on ICTs for development in Africa.
The award is given to African Governments and Institutions that are involved in developing and implementing ICTs for public service contributing to the development of the Information Society in Africa.
Currently e-Soko covers 50 markets in the country, but there are plans to add 20 more in the second phase of the project implementation.
Construction of Karisimbi mast complete
The infrastructural works on Karisimbi mast are complete, said a top official at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Patrick Nyirishema, the head of ICT at RDB, said the works included the rehabilitation of the tower on Mount Karisimbi, extension of electric power to the summit, coupled with fibre optic cable connection.
Karisimbi is a 40-metre mast located at one of the highest mountain summits in the country. Its overall aim is to enhance electronic communications and broadcasting services in the country and the region. The mast is located in Musanze District in the Northern Province.
“The project is an ongoing process, what was completed was the construction of the infrastructure but, on the service side, there can never be an end. It’s like you are constructing the road and you say we have come to an end of using the road which is impossible, similarly, there can never be an end to the services offered by Karisimbi,” he said.
The Karisimbi project involves the supply, installation and commissioning of broadcasting, ICT, Telecommunication, WiMAX, air navigation surveillance and radio frequency management systems.