The events this week could have unfolded as a coincidence but their description boarders more on the visionary. Rwandatel-a company that government once fully owned, partly owned, sold off, re-owned and then was cheated by American brief case businessman Greg Wyler- has finally been privatised to Libyan investment conglomerate Lap Green at a cost of 100 Million US dollars.
Coincidence, because the sale of Rwandatel to a major ICT player on the African and Arab continents comes upon the heels of the Africa Connect Summit held in Kigali early in this month. Visionary, because finally the sale of Rwandatel is a practical statement by Rwanda’s leadership in their commitment to promote ICT as a way to spur economic growth in the country, Lap Green is one of the leading communication investment vehicles on the Arab and African continents.
Manasseh Twahirwa, Executive Secretary, Privatisation Secretariat finalised the deal on behalf of government while Lap Green was represented by its managing director Abdulbaset Elazzabi.
According to experts, entry of Lap Green will change the face of Rwanda’s communication industry in many ways and will leave an indelible mark on Rwanda’s economy like MTN has done.
The immediate creation of a profit making corporate in the short run withstanding, Lap Green will reduce the cost of communication in Rwanda. Lap Green bought majority shares in Uganda’s Uganda Telecom Limited and have put up a formidable business challenge for MTN-who have been forced to put up an aggressive marketing campaign in that country and thus reduced airtime charges.
Talking about visions, President Paul Kagame who was invited to address the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda had a vision to share with the other East African Community leaders attending the meeting.
The president reiterated his vision for Rwanda by first saying that he was invited to the meeting to present Rwanda’s contribution in the need to explore ways of making East Africa competitive in the commonwealth and global market.
In his address, the president emphasised his desire to have more qualified personnel coming into Rwanda’s job market and appealed to Rwanda employers to find means of retaining talented and educated people so as they don’t go to the western world as illegal immigrant in the search of better lives.
He said, “We want to become home to entrepreneurs who transform agricultural produce into commercially viable goods; who develop tourism into dynamic clusters that generate wealth; who utilise ICT to create export-oriented service industries – where ample energy and modern infrastructure become permanent features of our landscape.”
Kagame further said, for East African economies to develop, there was need to increase working hours and a change in business practices in the public sector so that the economy is not limited to daylight operations.
To illustrate his idea, the president said; “For example, we need public services where the time to complete business procedures is not measured in months, but days, or even hours. Procedures that take months and the attitudes that propagate this way of working belong to the pre-modern and pre-digital times – not in the Africa we envision. Look at our regional infrastructure for example,
A lorry of commercial goods travelling inland to coastal gateways can take anywhere from five days to two weeks depending on “good luck”.”
In reference to long hours of bureaucratic paper work involved in the transfer of goods and services across EAC boarders, the president expressed his desire for more efficient boarder transactions. He said the long bureaucratic processes involved in clearing imports and exports at boarders is a loss to many stakeholders; “Everyone loses here - the wealth that would otherwise accrue to East Africans fails to materialise.
The businesses that we so badly want to grow are undermined and the state is deprived of revenue. We can fix this problem – by recruiting talented, responsible and accountable people to operate vital border crossings and customs posts on 24-hour work shifts.”
The president emphasized the need for employers to help government improve national capacity by using fair means of rewarding and retaining professionals in local companies. “We lose professionals as soon as we create them, and then resort to borrowing in order to finance expensive international expertise.” He said.
Kagame also promised that his government will start policies aimed at promoting increased transfer of human resources and goods across boarders, he said; “We in Rwanda are facilitating this by removing work permits and employment restrictions on professionals and others to work in our country. This decision is also in the spirit of the East African common market that will formalise free movement of goods, services as well as people. Rwanda, East Africa and Africa at large are, in effect, at a cross-road.”
Juvenal Rugambarara is the latest convict to be sentenced by the UN’s ICTR in Arusha, Juvenal the former Mayor of Bicumbi was on Friday sentenced to 11 years in jail for the extermination of many Tutsi in his area of administration in 1994.
In a related development, the ICTR has requested the French government to arrest and put to trial Fr. Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and Laurent Bucyibaruta, two leading Genocidaires currently residing in France.
Munyeshayka was the high priest of St. Famille church in the capital city where many Tutsis who sought refugee are reported to have been killed with the personal blessing and participation of the Catholic priest.
Munyeshyaka is also reported to have raped several Tutsi women that had sought refugee in his church. Bucyibaruta was the Prefect of Gikongoro where the 1994 Genocide is reported to have begun and was most efficient. Both officials were arrested in France but the French have been reluctant to try them or extradite them.
Muneshyaka is also currently serving as a parish priest in France, where he is preaching to his congregators to be free from sin. Meanwhile ,seven people were arrested last week in Gatsibo District after reports that they were being recruited in the murderous bandits of the FDLR-who implemented the 1994 Genocide and then running to hide in Eastern DR Congo.
The arrests were more significant by the fact that two of the suspects are local defense constables in the area; they were recruited by Faustin Ndekezi, who police officers said is an FDLR rebel’s collaborator-it is not clear why he had not been arrested earlier.
Rwanda’s Treatment and Research for HIV/Aids Centre (TRAC) is the leading torch bearer for the use of ICT in improving the lifestyles of many people on the African continent.
TRAC has successfully used internet and mobile phone communication well in regard to fighting the scourge of the epidemic in the country. As a result, MTN Rwanda-the leading internet service providers in the country have offered to connect TRAC centres to the internet free of charge.
This will increase TRAC’s efficiency in delivery of Anti retroviral drugs to patients across the country. TRAC has been recognised by the international community for their successful use of Information Technology and Communication gadgets to facilitate delivery of ARVs and track the progress HIV/Aids patients across the country-serving over 60 percent of the patients that need the treatment in the country.
Last week, TRAC scooped two ICT awards in South Africa for their effective use of ICT to treat and monitor patients; TRAC won the awards from South Africa’s Department of Communication and ForgeAhead. The South Africans also awarded President Kagame a Lifetime Achievers Award for his dedication in ICT promotion as a tool for better service delivery to citizens.
The awards come soon after TRAC had been awarded a trophy by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) for use of ICT in ensuring timely access to HIV/Aids information and drugs nationwide.