A new initiative in Rwanda aims to transform the lives of 5 million citizens by bringing them online and providing digital skills training in their communities in a new Digital Ambassadors Program (DAP).
Partnering with the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Internet for All Northern Corridor initiative and Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), Rwanda’s Ministry of Youth and Information Communication Technology (MYICT) will be spearheading a push to provide Internet access, skills training and jobs across the country.
Using this innovative, ‘triple-win’ approach, DAP will accelerate digital inclusion in the country and create new opportunities for youth as they work as Digital Ambassadors to deliver digital literacy programs in rural communities.
DAP will employ 5,000 young Rwandans, aiming for 50% participation of young women and girls, as they serve as digital skills trainers. By doing so, they will impact the lives of 5 million citizens by providing hands-on training to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Internet and mobile applications.
“Young Digital Ambassadors receive essential ICT, facilitation, and soft skills and will spend time in their communities getting to understand the needs and challenges of community members while providing digital solutions and training,” said Janet Longmore, founder and CEO of DOT. “DAP is an innovative and youth-led approach to economic development and digital inclusion – we are inspired by the commitment of MYICT and our network of partners in Rwanda to making this a highly impactful initiative that will create new opportunities and transform communities.”
The training will focus on basic digital literacy, because this is an important first step for many rural Rwandans who have low or no experience using the Internet. But it will also extend to more in-depth training for ordinary citizens to use e-services, such as use e-gov and e-business services.
Under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, Rwanda has embarked on an ambitious path towards the development of its ICT sector. As the co-chair of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, President Kagame is leading Rwanda through a transformation to the digital economy.
“Without fast and affordable internet access, there are few pathways from poverty to prosperity in the 21st century,” President Kagame said at the WEF’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, at a special session of the Broadband Commission that focused on “Innovations to Connect the Unconnected.”
The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) estimates that 33% of the population is using the Internet as of 2016 and, according to Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Rwanda boasts the second most affordable Internet services as compared to other developing countries.
The Government of Rwanda is using ICTs to implement several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The DAP project seeks to address SDG 5, SDG 8, SDG 10, and SDG 17, as it goes beyond access and digital literacy, with a strong focus on jobs and skills and aims to reduce inequalities within Rwanda.
Expanding access to the Internet is priority for the country as it will aid in expanding economic opportunities for all citizens.
RURA in collaboration with other stakeholders are implementing measures towards Universal Access for all Rwandans. Some of the measures include e-learning and e-service centres in rural areas, subsidizing the cost of Internet in rural areas to ensure affordable access to Internet services and supporting people with disabilities to have equal opportunity and access to ICTs.