Rwanda has set ambitious goals and is moving full speed ahead to achieve them. The seriousness and effectiveness of the government has seen the country make great strides in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Information technology has been identified and prioritised as a sector to spring Rwanda to development in no time.
In the recent weeks, elite conversations in the East African region have all been about the boundless opportunities and benefits we shall all enjoy thanks to fibre optic undersea cable that recently landed at Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports.
The Kenyan press really gave the event a lot of coverage way before the cable had landed at Mombasa. Every major Kenyan paper has been running stories of the massive benefits awaiting Kenyan ‘netizens’ (Internet users).
On the day of the simultaneous switch, the Tanzanian president was connected to a live teleconference with journalists and in a short while, pioneer users were posting celebratory messages on Facebook about how they could now watch CNN live on the Internet.
Here in Kigali the mood has been and remains to be surprisingly different. Fibre optic cables have been placed under ground to cover Kigali city and to major towns including one that goes all the way to Gatuna to connect to the one from Mombasa via Kampala.
Fibre optic is known to be several times faster and cheaper than the satellite connection that we are still relying on.
I actually thought that since the cable to Gatuna was laid a long time ago, then the fibre optic frenzy would happen here too at the same time as it did in Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam.
Somewhere in the papers it was reported that Kigali will join the network two weeks later but with just a few days to go, no one in the tech industry seems to be talking about this pending utopian life.
At the expo, the fellows at the MTN and Rwandatel stands often go on and on about the current Internet services which are expected to become obsolete very soon.
The gentleman at the Altech Stream stall only mentioned the cable after I had asked. All the while he was telling me about the satellite services they are offering.
He later told me that, “we are digging and by September the cable will be here.” I wondered whether the two weeks had now turned to a month. Altech operates in Uganda as Infocom and as Kenya Data Network (KDN) in Kenya.
The newspapers here do not seem to be giving the event its due significance.
The business and technology pages are hardly explaining the benefits or better still the progress of the stress saving technology.
How long should we wait for this revolutionary technology. The benefits are so tempting that one feels like getting on a plane to Kenya returning only when the same service is here.