Rwanda has been chosen to lead the rest of Africa in implementing the Giga Initiative, a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) initiative aimed at connecting every school to the internet.
The initiative, launched in 2019, Giga sets the goal of providing connectivity to every school in the world where it is estimated that some 3.6 billion people in the world do not have access to the Internet.
Initiated by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and UNICEF, Giga initiative is expected to connect every school to the Internet by 2030, focusing on four pillars of Mapping, Connect, Finance, and Empower.
For example in financing, Giga will work with governments and advise them on building affordable and sustainable country specific models for finance and delivery, subsidizing market creation costs and incentivizing private sector investment.
Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau, said that the choice of Rwanda was right and fitting based on its track record in implementing ICT based policies and access that have shaped the digital era.
“I look forward to working closely with Paul Kagame and Paula Musoni to provide every young person in the region with the information and the skills they need to shape the future they want in the digital era,” Bogdan-Martin said on June 5.
Rwanda’s Minister for ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, said that the Giga initiative aligns with Rwanda’s vision of becoming a knowledge based economy.
This vision is premised on the ability to provide easy access to education, a priority government has undertaken seeking to connect all schools to the internet as well as equipping them with necessary tools and skills.
“Such collaborations are needed more than ever to accelerate connectivity rollout and easy, affordable access to learning opportunities for our children,” Ingabire said.
Rwanda has managed to lay out 7, 000 kilometers of fiber optic backbone, rolled out 96% of 4G internet as part of basic infrastructure to connect all schools to internet.
Before the closure of schools due to coronavirus (Covid-19) spreading to Rwanda, improving access to eLearning was one of the government’s ambitions to becoming a technology hub in the East African region.
To achieve this goal, Rwanda launched an ICT in education policy which involved providing internet and distribution of child-based computers under One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program where teachers can digitally enter lessons into the eLearning website for pupils to revise while at home.
The government, through the Rwanda Education Board (REB) distributed more than 250,000 OLPCs in 1,624 schools out of the targeted 2,909
In a related development, ITU said that Kazakhstan will also lead the Giga Regional intiative for Central Asia.