Rwanda’s capital Kigali will next month host the first ever Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue.
Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue will take place in Kigali from 8-9th May this year, two days before the Transform Africa Summit also scheduled to take place in Kigali.
Hundreds of ICT experts will convene in Kigali to attend the Internet and Development Dialogue event to discuss how Africa can use the Internet to advance education, innovation and job creation.
The event is organized by Internet Society in partnership with UNESCO and Rwanda’s ministry of Youth and ICT.
Organizers say that the event aims at gathering various organizations working on Internet and development across the region to identify synergies and create opportunities for coordination and collaboration.
“One of the key topics of discussion will be what needs to be done for Africa to benefit from the transformational opportunities of Internet for the benefit of the African economy and education,” said Dawit Bekele, Regional Bureau Director for Africa at the Internet Society.
“While there are many challenges, we know it can be done.”
According to officials at internet society, only Rwanda and Kenya have created policy environments that enable innovation.
Rwanda has already moved from 3G and 4G LTE network. The country seeks to turn into a knowledge-based economy and has already laid over 3,000km of Fibre optic network worth $130m since 2009 that connects border to border with all its neighbours.
Last year, Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4I) ranked Rwanda as the country with the most affordable Internet in 52 least developed countries for the second successive year.
High cost of smartphones and low income continue to deter Rwandas progress in internet connectivity and the A4I report recommended the reduction of the cost of mobile phones and ICT devices will enable Rwanda to become a regional ICT hub. Over 8 million Rwandans own mobile phones as of March last year, according to Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA).
According to available figures from Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), total number of active mobile telephone subscriptions (90 days revenue generating subscribers) in Rwanda increased from 8,858,022 at the end of November 2016 to 8,921,533 at the end of December same year, thus showing an increase of 0.72%.
However, only over 665,684 Rwandans had smart phones in the third-quarter of 2015 while Internet penetration was 33% by 2016 as a result of high costs and limited access to devices.
Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda’s Minister for Youth and ICT said that Africa is on an unstoppable move towards digital transformation and room for increasing speed and impact is limitless.
“This can only be achieved if we are able to harness effectively the power of partnerships,” He said.
Nsengimana added that there is need to increase productivity in use of internet on phones and its availability to get better results.
Africa has over 226million young people who represent a significant asset of future development of the continent and investing in youth is among issues to be discussed at the Transform Africa Summit 2017.
Rwanda has confirmed preparations to host two other major continental ICT events such as the YouthConnektAfrica Summit, among others.