Rwanda’s Shift to a Knowledge Based Economy
Rwanda is repeatedly associated with the 1994 genocide, in which a million people were killed. Today, the small East African country is unified, breaking old stereotypes to move towards political, social and economic progress. In fact, the government has launched in 2000 a long-term development strategy “Rwanda 2020”. The goal of this program is to transform the country from a low-income agrarian economy to a medium income export-oriented and knowledge-based economy.
Rwanda ICT Sector
Information and Communication Technology is an essential element to drive the transformation of Rwanda to a knowledge-based economy. Rwanda is among the fastest growing African countries in several fields of ICT: e-commerce and e-services, mobile technologies, applications development and automation. The first factory unit of hardware is installed in Rwanda “Positivo” and has started operations. So, it should not be surprising if you see, in the near future, laptops, tablets and other electronic devices with a label made in Rwanda. In addition, Rwanda is considered a regional center for the training of professionals and researchers on communication technologies.
Government Support Projects in ICT
Kigali Technopole: a center dedicated to ICT development and research in Africa with a focus on applications relevant to the African markets. The center is driving Rwanda into a modern knowledge-based economy. It provides ICT solutions beyond borders in Africa and the rest of the world. Technopole is expected to attract skilled ICT professionals and worldwide companies.
KLab (knowledge Lab): is an open technology hub in Kigali where students, fresh graduates, entrepreneurs and innovators come to work on their ideas and projects to turn them into viable business models. The aim of the project is to encourage young entrepreneurs to develop their technology-oriented ideas into products and future companies.
4G (LTE): The Rwandan Government, in partnership with the South Korean telecommunications provider KT Corporation, is rolling out a high-speed 4G (LTE) broadband network across the country. The network is expected to cover 95% of the population within three years.
ICT : A Real Driving Force for the Economy
The government relies on the development of the ICT sector, not only to bring investment and create jobs but also to enable the advancement of Rwandan public services including education, health care, and Finance.
Rwanda has taken a step ahead to improve its education system and now stands as a model in Africa. The government implemented the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program which has played a key role to introduce technology in primary schools. It also allows primary schools’ students early access to computer skills and computer science while expanding their knowledge on specific subjects like science, mathematics, languages and social sciences through online research or server-hosted content. According to the Ministry of Education, 56% of primary schools have access to computers, while 8% of them have access to internet.
Rwanda Health Management Information System (R-HMIS) has covered over 500 health facilities in the past two years. Many modules have been added to the system such as death audit reporting for all maternal, Neonatal, and child deaths, Community Health Information System, eTB-a patient level system for tracking MDR (multi-drug resistant) to patients as well as the HIV reporting and disease surveillance system which is currently being transitioned. According to the Ministry of Health, the percentage of health centers connected to internet reached 93.8%. The number of clinical emergencies supported through RapidSMS is 25%, while number of patients at community level tracked using RapidSMS reached 173,131.
Mobile money subscribers across all networks have reached 6,480,449 which was more than twice the number of subscribers in the previous year. The number of mobile money transactions reached USD 824.6 million compared to USD 394 million amount transacted in the year before.
(Data & Statistics 2014)
Younes Baidada, Senior Analyst at Infomineo.
 Ministry of Youth and ICT, Rwanda ICT Highlights 2014, (Mar 2015) Link: http://www.myict.gov.rw/press-room/latest-news/latest-news/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=216&cHash=3ab7393897aff0a46d7f29612935c05e
 Ministry of Youth and ICT, Rwanda ICT Sector-Profile 2014, (Mar 2015)
 National Bank of Rwanda, Foreign Private Capital in Rwanda, (2015)
 Press: The New Times, Rwanda Powering Ahead with ICT, (Feb 2016), link: http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2016-02-04/196744/
 Press: CIO East Africa, Rwanda Leads the Way in Demonstrating How ICT Can Fund Development, (Aug 2016), link: http://www.cio.co.ke/blog/rwanda-leads-the-way-in-demonstrating-how-ict-can-fund-development
 Press: The New Times, Korea Pledges More Support Toward Rwanda’s ICT Sector, (Oct 2016), link: http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2016-10-05/204184/
 Press: The New Times, Kigali Trade Zone to Host ICT Park, (Jan 2013), link: http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2013-01-15/61849/
 Press: The New Times, Why this South American Company is Making Laptops in Rwanda, (Jul 2016), link: http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2016-10-05/204184/