The government of Rwanda is leveraging emerging technologies to drive social and economic development, says H.E. Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of ICTs and Innovation.
In a video interview at the ITU 2018 Plenipotentiary Conference, she explained that health care in Rwanda has seen progress thanks to the use of drones that deliver blood to different hospitals and health centres. “You are able to save lives because you are able to get blood in a much faster way,” she said. “It usually took us 3 hours to deliver blood and now it has come down to 26 minutes.”
To become a knowledge-based economy, Rwanda has attracted a number of partners to build skills and increase scientific research and innovation in the country, says Ingabire. These include the Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, and the software development company, Andela, which is going to train over 500 developers in Rwanda.
And to bring government services closer to the people, Rwanda rolled out a platform called Irembo. According to Ingabire, Irembo not only provides services to citizens online, it also reduces the number of trips a citizen has to make to get these government services, thereby improving citizen welfare.
Rwanda has successfully rolled out equitable, high-speed broadband Internet across the country. “But we are at a point now that we are tackling issues that have to do with affordability,” said Ingabire. “That is the only way that you are able to bridge that digital divide,” she emphasized.
According to Ingabire, services have recently become much more affordable in Rwanda, and operators are now offering innovative and affordable packs that allow users to maximize data usage. The government of Rwanda has also encouraged operators to develop less expensive devices, and is working very closely with different private players to identify creative ways to drive digital literacy across the Rwandan population, says Ingabire.
Africans want to develop their own tech-for-good solutions, notes Ingabire. “Across the African continent we have a number of countries that are working so hard to become innovation hubs. But I think this drive is inspired by the fact that we want to move away from being consumers to becoming creators of these innovations.”
ITU has proven to be useful partner in this endeavour, she says.
“ITU provides a good platform for … bilateral or multilateral partnerships. But, increasingly, we need to put a strong emphasis on how we support each other to become creators of these innovations so we can have equitable development when it comes to the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Ingabire.