A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon, Napoleon Bonaparte once famously said. He was referring to the various medals of honour he had introduced in order to motivate his army, first in the French revolution and later in his many conquests. And his soldiers’ morale was always high as long as they felt their efforts would be recognised, with a ribbon bearing their nation’s colours.
Last Friday in a colourful ceremony at Serena Hotel, Rwanda celebrated her first ever Information Communications Technology (ICT) awards.
The Intego awards. For a whole month, companies looked forward to that bit of ‘ribbon’. According to the brains behind the awards, Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA), twenty thousand votes were cast.
I will not go into the details of what transpired. As RITA Executive Director, Nkubito Bakuramutsa rightly said, the country has come a long way in as far as ICT is concerned and the awards were therefore an opportunity to celebrate our achievements while acknowledging the challenges ahead.
Among the challenges, as Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, pointed out, is using and engaging ICT for the development of most of the country’s crucial sectors like agriculture, industry, commerce and others, in an effort to realise the vision 2020.
According to the Prime Minster, Rwanda might have missed the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions but she is determined to grasp the Digital Revolution.
And what better way of expressing this determination but through such initiatives as the One Laptop per child scheme, adult education schemes, e-government, e-education e-tourism, e-Agriculture and many e-more’s.
Rwanda is now laying out the fibre optic cable. This will go to the remotest parts of the country and by the end of 2009; Rwanda will be competing with only South Africa in as far as ICT is concerned.
Fourteen years ago, no one would imagine a scenario where Rwanda would be in the media for the good points. The Intego Awards are now among the many positives. Their aim is to go beyond national to Regional and hopefully, continental.
We, however, should keep pushing for excellence. We should, just like the Prime Minister said, maintain our momentum and where possible increase the pace.
Often times, we love hearing good things being said about our country. We also love applauding those that put us on the map for the good things they have done.
We throng the airport to pick ‘our’ awards; for a clean city; for good leadership and many more that our nation has received.
The question now should be; What part have I played?
When Rwanda receives an award for having the cleanest city, do you see yourself as key player in umuganda (communal cleaning) or someone who spits and urinates along the pavements?
When a Rwandan receives an award for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger, do you see yourself as another mouth to be fed or do you wake up to try and figure out how you will sustain yourself?
At the Intego Awards, I met someone I always heard about but hadn’t yet met. Not even on TV. That was Hassan Lumumba of Dash-s Technology. His company won the best ICT Start up Company award.
The story behind Lumumba (the Rwandan), is also quite interesting in itself. But that will be for another time. However. Dash-s Technologies Inc is a dynamic company with a vision to provide excellent services and bring global technologies to its clients’ doorstep.
It has successfully provided Software solutions to various businesses Corporate Companies, Government and many more. All in a space of two years! That’s the kind of Rwandan you should visualise yourself as.
You should be dancing your way to receive your award, just like how the New Artel manager did when he was picking the one for Best Internet Service provider.
“It’s been a long journey for Rwanda’s ICT sector, but it’s also been a very committed one.
This is just the beginning and it is proof that there is commitment to ensure that the ICT sector in Rwanda develops and remains strong,” Bakuramutsa said.
And what more commitment than Rwanda investing USD 100 million, about 3 percent of the country’s GDP, as revealed by the Minister in charge of ICT in the president’s office Romain Murenzi.
Rwanda is not known for empty political promises. She’s is known for acting. We should be part of the action. Let’s be just like the traditional musicians at the awards who sang about maintaining our good culture while at the same time adopting the good like ICT (as evidenced by the microphones and loud speakers).
Let’s not miss the Digital Revolution; we are already a part of it. Intego Awards, you are a ribbon worth fighting for.