ICT and the media are two interdependent sectors that are heavily propelling the socio-economic development process since they are vital components of the high-tech infrastructural layout a country needs to develop.
Rwanda’s high speed of development and regional integration can be largely attributed to the government’s efforts to establish a knowledge based economy founded on ICTs and all the relevant technologies that have been crucial in the country’s progress.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT), is the umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software and satellite systems as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning.
One of the crucial tools of communication which is a vital component of ICT is the media, which is literally a means of getting information or news delivered across a wide geographical area.
Needless to say, the media is the quickest way of communicating to the remotest part of a country, and generally facilitates governments in disseminating policies to its citizens.
Through the media, various sectors of the economy such as trade, private sector, education, telecommunication companies as well as entertainment and religious groups interact and hence produce a vibrant socio-economic growth.
It is against this background therefore, that developing countries have injected large funds into the development of the knowledge-based economy by adopting and adapting the advanced technologies and infrastructures borrowed from the West, that have served to boost their economies.
Rwanda in particular is gaining recognition in the East African region as the ICT ‘hub’, by making sure that ICT spearheads the knowledge-based economy. This in turn has greatly boosted the media industry; by expansion in coverage, speed of news delivery and increased number of media outlets, all of which have seen more and more Rwandans being updated on the political, social and economic situation as well as increased their participation in these sectors.
Some ICT projects initiated by the Rwandan government to speed operations and communication have greatly boosted the media over the last decade from a government monopoly to a diversified and vibrant media industry.
These include the Karisimbi project that improves telecommunication and broadcasting while reducing their costs. The fiber optic networking and the much anticipated project is set to install a web printing machine so as to facilitate the print media in increasing production at an afforher broadcasting technologies to neighbouring countries. She is already attracting investors in broadcasting. A Chinese company, Co-Star Africa is in the process of setting up a digital TV station in the country.
Fiber Optic/Broadband Connection
Due to the growing market demand for more bandwidth and Transparent LAN (Ethernet Private Line) services, a project to network the whole country with fiber optic by December this year is underway.
The Kigali Metropolitan Network is especially designed to deliver Internet at a lower cost to all the city’s districts.
This in addition to Rwanda’s project to establish a third Internet Service Provider, will greatly reduce Internet and telephone costs allowing media houses to operate quickly and deliver news on time without spending a fortune.
This project is a great incentive to both government and private media houses which always download and upload news material through the Internet and incur a lot of phone costs in delivering correspondence and field reports.
A lot of effort has been put in the capacity building of journalists through training and reinforcing the ICT capacity of media stations to deal with the increasing demands of news production.
The head of RITA, Mr. Nkubito Bakuramutsa said that the agency last year held a workshop on the technologies being used in media production. Consequently, media personnel were trained in utilizing various ICT tools like print, video editing and sound editing tools.
In the meantime, Bakuramutsa called on press agencies to start training in various technologies like sound and video editing, web printing and data streaming in preparation for the digital migration process.
The ministry of Information in the Prime Minister’s office and the ministry of education are also behind this initiative in terms of availing funds and scholarships for the much needed media training.
The Great Lakes Media Center was established to build capacity of journalists and professionalism in their work within a short time. Many journalists from government and private press houses have enrolled for the courses offered at the center tailor-made to suit the needs of the news industry.