Key highlights from Smart Rwanda Days Key highlights from Smart Rwanda Days

OPENING REMARKS

Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana said that “Over the next one day and half, we will pause, reflect, analyse, strategise, network and celebrate achievements and ponder on areas of improvement, we will debate topics ranging from digital economies, cashless payments, internet governance, open data and smart cities and communities at the end of the day tomorrow my biggest expectation is that we will go back with the renewed sense of urgency in delivering on promise of ICT in the greater good of all.”

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The Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana presides over the official opening of Smart Rwanda Days

Dr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) noted that “We’re here to celebrate one of the key elements of the Smart Africa Manifesto which calls for Smart Country programs, and here once again Rwanda has taken a lead with this Smart Rwanda Days.”

In a general perspective the three session openers discussed the continued importance of ICT and the role it’s playing in Rwanda and the rest of Africa. IT was clearly recognized that ICT has transformed most of all the sectors and continues to provide the benefits to support emerging application in Agriculture, finance, banking, job creation, education and health care. The smart Africa reiterated the commitment made in regards to Smart Africa and it’s support in the recent conference in Addis Ababa.

DIGITAL PAYMENTS

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Panel discussing on Rwanda embraces digital payments

The main thrust of the presentations was the exponential and significant role in the use of digital payments in Rwanda and emerging cash-lite society. The Governor of national BNR drew the historical growth of digital payments and made projections of the same significant growth by the year 2020.

The more significant contribution of digital payments has been in the support of Rwanda’s unbanked. It is anticipated that as the growth of 4G LTE is expanded and access to lower cost smart phones becomes readily available to the average Rwandan citizens and other Africans, digital payments will serve even a more significant role in the transformation of Rwanda and the rest of Africa to a truly knowledge based and cashless society.

There is however a need for continued monitoring of the situation in terms of the right policies for digital payments, supporting regulation and the need for all partners, banks and telecos in order to provide a seamless environmental interoperability.

CONTENT LOCALIZATION

The critical success factor for the growth and availability of content in Rwanda and Africa in general is dependent on the need for Africans to develop content for Africa.

It’s very important to note that we suffer from the fact that nearly 90% of our content is either sourced or hosted outside Rwanda. The numbers for the rest of Africa are not significantly different other than countries like South Africa and Nigeria. Therefore, there is a significant need to leverage the ICT resources to encourage not only participation but the development of content by Rwanda’s and Africans.

BCG REPORT (GREASING THE WHEELS OF INTERNET ECONOMY AND INTERNET GOVERNANCE)

The discussions on leveraging the power of internet governance to support the economic growth and transformation of Africa requires the need to understand and support many factors. These includes basic education about internet and it’s organization governance as well as revenue potential of managing the domain registrations and names.

The internet has not been leveraged as a source of revenues for Africa particularly as compared for developed nations. The study of BCG report “Greasing the wheels of Internet Economy “is significant success factors as well as the impediments (E-Frication’s in the seas) to the leveraging of the internet.

Some of the recommendations that came out included the need for Infrastructure sharing by the Telecos to reduce access charges as well as the potential economic benefits of Telecos and African nations collaborating to single source devices, a key requirement to access and leverage the benefits of the internet economy.

These include again the need for right policies, participation of civil society and other stakeholders to develop the right policies and collaborative models.
With regards to internet governance, there most significant element was the most recent and emerging transfer of responsibilities by ICANN.

SMART CITIES

The main outcomes of this session were to reinforce the need to leverage the ICT enablers to support the transformation process not only in Rwanda and the rest of Africa. It’s extremely encouraging that the acceptance smart Africa is no longer limited to Rwanda but the rest of Africa.

The challenge really remains to develop the appropriate national, regional and Africa wide frameworks to develop smarter nations and Smarter Africa. There is a significant amount of work to be done by all stakeholders to develop smart transportation models, Smart incubators within cities, smart grids for energy, smart education and the participation by all stakeholders to make this happen.

SMART AFRICA INITIATIVE

On October 29, 2013, during the Transform Africa Summit held in Kigali, 7 heads of States and Government, the International Telecommunications Union, the Africa Union Commission, and more than 2,000 participants representing Governments, Private Sector, Civil Society, Regional, Continental and International Institutions adopted the “Smart Africa Manifesto” , which embodies 5 principles and the implementation framework of Smart Africa.

The session discusses the progress registered since the adoption of the Smart Africa Manifesto by African States. It will also share key developments and high - level commitments that have been registered by Governments, the Private Sector, and international organizations as well as the way forward to accelerating sustainable socio-economic development o f the continent using ICTs.

OPEN DATA

Open Data will stimulate innovation, create Jobs and wealth. Open dat is directly aligned with the EDPRS 2 targets (e.g. to create 200,000 off-farm jobs).According to a recent Mc Kinsey Report, Open data is responsible for generation of 3 Trillion US Dollars every Year.

For a country like Rwanda which aspires to become a knowledge-Based economy, Open Data IS a strategic national asset.Besides wealth and job creation, Open Data has got potential to increase civic participation and enhance accountability of Government.

Raw Data in itself has got little value industry you have to go through the process of Data converted to Information to analysis then to Action.

In the wake of the Edward Snowden saga people will either focus on the risks or the rewards but it is very clear.

There has to be a deliberate commitment on the part of the Government to open up data. The Rwanda National Institute of Statiscs goes beyond releasing data to creating a community of users among students, journalists etc.

Kenya passed a bill obliging all government institutions to release data in machine readable formats.

CLOSING CEREMONY

President Paul Kagame speaking at the official closure of the two-day ‘Smart Rwanda Days’ forum held under the theme, Digitising Rwanda, in Kigali stressed that “We need to treat broadband like a utility we should avail and make affordable to as many people as we can.”

President Kagame has said that digital innovation has leveled the playing field, making it easy for anyone from anywhere can compete in the global economy. Speaking at an interactive session during the conclusion of the Smart Rwanda conference, President Kagame said digital innovation means ideas do not have borders and therefore countries cannot be landlocked : “We are making good progress. We should not take things for granted, we should continue working hard. Our thinking is about crossing borders while benefiting others and from others. We may act Rwandan but we think Africa and beyond.”

President Kagame emphasized that broadband should be treated like a utility that should be availed and made affordable to as many people as possible and that Rwanda was looking for ways to increase affordability and ensure benefits.

Encouraging young people to take up entrepreneurial roles in the field on digital innovation, President Kagame said : “An entrepreneur is one that does not alleviate poverty but creates wealth because alleviating poverty is like treating a patient who stays in a condition between critical and death. There is a saying that this is Africa’s century. The question is why wasn’t last century Africa’s century ? I believe it has always been Africa’s day. It’s up to Africans to seize the day and make our aspirations a reality.”

President Kagame concluded by paying tribute to Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, who will soon be coming to the conclusion of his tenure, for his work as ITU Secretary General : “You have made every African proud”.

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President Kagame speaking to children using computers

PROGRAM
DAY ONE - Thursday, 2nd October 2014

DAY TWO - Friday, 3rd October 2014

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