Hundreds of business executives from around the world are heading to Rwanda to attend a high-end conference on Information Communications Technology, dubbed ‘SMART Rwanda Days’.
The annual event brings together international stakeholders in the ICT sector, experts, policy makers, and development partners to discuss how Rwanda can leverage Technologies for economic transformation.
President Paul Kagame and Dr. Hamadoun Toure, the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), will be key note speakers. President Kagame is a co-Chair of the ITU-UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development.
Tigo, a subsidiary of Milcom International, VISA, World Bank, CNBC Africa, ITU, Internet Society, ICANN, BCG, and the Boston Consulting Group will be present.
The conference taking place on 2-3 October is under the theme “Digitizing Rwanda”.
Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana said the conference will provide an ideal platform for discussing ways in which ICT’s can contribute significantly to Rwanda’s economic growth.
The contribution of ICT to national economy is estimated to be about 8.5% with telecommunications contributing 3.5% comapred to construction contributing 8% and 13.1% from manufacturing.
Nsengimana says ICT enables other sectors such banking, tourism and hospitality. The central bank says the service industry grew to 22.4% from12.6%.
He said the government has identified ten sectors in which deployment of ICTs can have maximum impact.
These sectors include; SMART-Education, Health-care, Governance, Business, Agriculture, Environment, Job Creation, Infrastructure, Girls and Cities.
The country, largely agrarian, is preparing to enter into the last critical 5 years of its Vision 2020 after which it expects to have transformed into a knowledge-based economy.
The country is pursuing an ambitious agenda of digitalizing all services, ranging from pushing for being a cashless economy and a paperless government.
A 4,500km national backbone fiber optic network, worth over a $130m has been rolled out and 4G LTE internet connectivity installed.
Citizens across the country will soon easily access faster internet and a private firm has been contracted to create a central platform for the public to access public services. Services can be accessed via internet and on mobile devices.
The country’s utilities agency (RURA) says mobile phone penetration is around 70% with about 6.7 million subscribers. Rwanda is a 12 million population. The ITU ranks Rwanda 6th dynamic performer in the developing world.
By Patrick Bigabo