Article written

  • on 15.02.2016
  • at 03:12 PM
  • by Kimberley Evans

Jean Philbert Nsengimana: Rwanda’s path to ICT innovation and transformation 0

Interview with Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICTs, H.E. Jean Philbert Nsengimana, has extensive experience in managing and developing award-winning ICT solutions, including in health and agriculture.

Briefly summarise how Rwanda is fulfilling its vision for becoming an information-rich and knowledge-based economy and society?

Rwanda has come a long way over the last 15 years since the beginning of its ICTs for development journey. This has involved three consecutive national information and communication infrastructure (NICI) plans, which included: creating a conducive legal and regulatory framework (NICI 1); establishing infrastructure (NICI 2) – including laying over 7,000 km of fibre optic cables, the highest density in Africa; and service delivery (NICI 3).

Over the last 3 years, the number of active mobile phone subscriptions has increased from 44.4% in September 2012 to 75.5% in September 2015. Our latest strategy, the Smart Rwanda Master Plan (SRMP) is about connecting, innovating and transforming Rwanda into a knowledge society. Its pillars range from service-oriented, modern, accountable, real-time (SMART) agriculture, finance, trade and industry, health, education, government, and women and youth empowerment in technology. It is crucial that the government drives job creation and Rwanda’s global competitiveness, based on an open and innovative smart economy with a favourable business climate that attracts large-scale investments and rewards entrepreneurs; enabling growth and exports.

How will Rwanda become an ICT hub in the region? What are the key steps needed to achieve this?

Our vision is for our people to have access to the relevant technologies, opportunities and solutions they need as we become an ICT hub. There are a number of steps which we are taking that suggest Rwanda is on the right path. Firstly, the President and relevant ministries’ leadership has been critical as this has defined a vision for the nation and made ICTs central to socio-economic development. As a result, citizens are mobilised and local/ international private investors also support this vision. The second factor is that Rwanda is promoting innovation through putting in place funding mechanisms for local and international innovators, attracting the best talent to centres of excellence like Carnegie Mellon University and other innovation hubs. Initiatives in digital literacy, which is vital to our vision, are underway to train and certify government employees, teachers, students and the general population. To assist in these efforts, 95% of Rwandans should have access to 4G LTE broadband by 2017. As we use ICTs to create the necessary momentum for growth, we continue to build on our strengths in enabling business, competitiveness and security.

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by Susanna Thorp

Spore is the flagship magazine of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). From October 2012, the magazine is managed by VITA.

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