In the last couple of years, Rwanda has witnessed critical reforms in areas such as starting a business, taxation, securing credit, dealing with construction permits, protecting investors, trading across borders, registering property, enforcing contracts, etcetera.
But for these reforms to be more effective and efficient in terms of facilitating doing business, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) must be positioned at the centre of everything.
For a businessperson, the excitement about the new taxation reforms would be somewhat dented if they still have to spend long hours in queues at the offices of Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA). One should be able to save time and energy when accessing taxation information as well as executing tax payments via internet.
It is impressive that government has invested in building the necessary infrastructure, human skills and mobilisation of its citizens to embrace ICTs as a tool to transform the economy from predominantly agriculture to a knowledge-based economy and society.
With the rollout of a 2,300-kilometer optic fibre across the country, the infrastructure issue has so far been taken care of. Rwanda has capitalised is has built a comprehensive and seamless national communication infrastructure, connecting the country’s 30 districts and nine border posts. Rwanda being strategically located between East Africa and Central Africa compliments its ambition of becoming a hub for ICT and many other services.
To its north and east Rwanda borders with East African countries. To its south and west the country borders with Central African countries. In terms of ICT business, this means that Rwanda can suitably serve as a virtual landing point to serve the most part of countries that do not have access to the submarine cable landing points on the coasts of ocean and sea.
Despite the business potentiality that Rwanda would exploit in the region, investors will feel comfortable to do businesses here due the continental and global presence created through public and private investment in the right ICT infrastructure that include cross-border installation of optic fibre as well as international connectivity through the cables in the Indian Ocean.
There are various ways ICTs can reduce the cost of doing business and maximize business profitability as well as increasing efficiency and better customer service delivery.
Many businesses do spend hefty amounts of money on communication. So, the government emphasis on availing a reliable and accessible communication network in all corners of the country will pave way for affordable communication.
This will significantly facilitate lots of businesses in the country, and make Rwanda one of the world’s best destinations to do business.
Now that an ICT infrastructure is steadily getting well fixed? What next? This infrastructure will provide an ideal platform to achieve the economic transformation as articulated in the government’s developmental strategy yet to run out in the next nine years. How?
It is an ideal platform in the sense that both government and private sector will be empowered to automate their services, thus increasing efficiency in terms of service delivery as well as productivity level.
With such an infrastructure, the cost of doing business will be greatly reduced as a result of improved productivity levels of companies. Through using ICTs, one can do much more in a much shorter time, thereby making it less expensive to do business since the staff can produce more in less time.
Sine qua non, the continued government investment in the ICT infrastructure, innovation and education is a down payment on our future.