Rwanda is steadily moving towards its vision of becoming an information-rich and knowledge-based economy and society, and an ICT hub in the region. Supported by the ODTA team, the government has started a new initiative that seeks to introduce ICTs to the development agenda in order to transform the social and economic development of the country.
The SMART Rwanda initiative aims to help Rwanda achieve its ICT vision, one village at a time. The initiative comprises ten focus sectors in which structured deployment of ICTs is expected to have maximum impact. These sectors include education, health care, governance, business, agriculture, job creation, environment, infrastructure, girls, and cities. Some of the enabling activities envisioned to support this process include shared ICT infrastructure, open data, innovation infrastructure, skills training, shared services, and institutional, legal, and regulatory frameworks.
The idea is to leverage “lean start-up” approaches to solution design while targeting practical “big goals” that have not been achieved by more conventional programs. The desired outcome is a list of innovative and immediately applicable ideas to solve the problems in each sector. These ideas should be ready to be implemented quickly, tested for viability, and then scaled up if they prove to be successful.
As part of the initiative, the ODTA team together with other World Bank teams and the Rwanda Ministry of Youth and ICT organized the Smart Rwanda Days in June 2013 in the capital city Kigali. The event brought together more than 250 representatives of government, the private sector, academia, media, and civil society as well as 600 online participants from around the world, to “co-create” the Smart Rwanda concept.
Given Rwanda’s leadership in the area of ICTs, the lessons learnt from implementation of the SMART Rwanda Program may be helpful in guiding similar efforts in other African regions.