The Rwanda Internet Community in collaboration with the Private Sector Federation (PSF) have set a target of increasing the number of network engineers in the country in the next five years.
Rwanda Internet Community and Technology (RICTA) officials said that this is because Rwanda is now focusing on training an ‘army’ of equipped engineers with sustainable technical skills required in a rapidly changing world to cut down on the country’s dependence on importing expertise and sending Rwandans to train outside the country.
Grace Ingabire, RICTA Chief Executive Officer. said that this will improve the government and private sector service delivery which occasionally suffers from network failure despite the fact that the country has laid enabling infrastructure- with over 96% of 4G internet, fiber optic and broadband connection.
“So far Rwanda has managed to train over 500 network managers and engineers and the new target is to train 1,000 in the next five years,” Ingabire said.
Ingabire made the revelation on June 3 during the closure of a weeklong annual training of Rwanda Network Operators Group (RWNOG) with over 70 participants from 37 different institutions both governmental and private.
For the last nine years, RICTA in collaboration with its partners such as the Internet Society, German Development Agency (GIZ), the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) and UR trained between 70 to 100 RWNOG members in various internet and network management skills.
“Our plan is to take this training beyond engineers, to lecturers and students in universities and this will be announced soon since we have already started signing memorandums with universities,” Ingabire said.
Improving Service Delivery
This year’s focus was on Domain Name System (DNS) Administration and Cloud Computing or virtualization aimed at building the capacity of IT engineers in these areas to improve their performance in managing network connectivity, cyber security to improve service delivery in the country.
The course was intended to reduce institutional dependence on DNS services provided by major Internet Service Providers (such as MTN Rwanda) especially when their services fail from time to time but also enable engineers to create virtual workplaces (virtualization) to be able to maintain internet based services throughout.
Alex Ntale, the CEO of Rwanda ICT Chamber at PSF said that by 2024 Rwanda should be able to have skilled engineers who can maintain internet based services but also cybersecurity.
“We don’t need to outsource skills from outside. That is why we are focusing in increasing numbers of engineers to improve services to attract investment,” Ntale said.
He further said that the long term plan is to reduce dependence on expertise and increase numbers of equipped network engineers to enable Rwanda to grow into a digital economy so as to export labor.
Women Engineers Needed
The engineering industry remains critically underrepresented and especially in the IT sector despite numbers of female internship applicants increasing to 25% in 2019 from 5% in 2018, according to the Royal Academy of Engineers report.
For instance, currently, the Institution of Engineers Rwanda (IER) counts more than 2,500 engineers as registered members, 210 of whom are women- making them less than 10%.
Victoire Uwase Isingizwe, who was inspired to pursue sciences from speeches of the First Lady Jeannette Kagame, said that the gender gap in IT needs to be bridged.
“I was inspired by the First Lady, among many powerful women and this enabled me to join Information Systems to prove their words-that women can,” said Uwase Isingizwe, a network administrator at RICTA.