Old technologies as important as new

The government of Rwanda is committed to developing Information and Communication Technology (ICT). And it is right to do so. Technology is fundamental to economic advancement.

The government of Rwanda is committed to developing Information and Communication Technology (ICT). And it is right to do so. Technology is fundamental to economic advancement.

Worldwide, technology has been the main force behind long-term increases in income and economic development in general. Without technology, growth would be limited to the contributions of increases in the size of the labour force and the capital stock. With it, labour and capital can be used and combined far more effectively.

The number of people with access to the internet and the use of a mobile phone is increasing all the time. Without the slog of putting up expensive infrastructures such as complex telephone wire systems for land lines, Rwanda has been able to skip 19th and 20th century technology, reaping the benefits of the 21st century.

But a word of warning: mobile phones are an exception. On the whole, advances are the result of previous labours. For example, electricity needs to come before computers, and reliable communications before modern health care. So while we are fortunate enough to benefit from 21st century technological know-how, we must not forget that the basics will not develope themselves.

May our commitment to new technologies be coupled with a respect for, and a commitment to, the development of ‘old’ technologies. After all, they will be the foundations of the future. It will facilitate not just the adoption of new technologies but their widespread use.

As our commitment grows, the nation should take very seriously the need to build the energy sector so that it stands the rest of the technologies in good stead.

Wind energy and solar power should be developed concurrently with the energy that will come from Lake Kivu’s methane gas. With assured energy sources, Rwanda’s drive to be a technology power in the region will not seem to be so far-fetched.

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