Kagame says ICT ‘Essential’ public utility
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and digital connectivity has been proven to be an essential public utility as well as development tool and not some luxury.
The Rwanda’s President was addressing high-profile leaders and influential global business people attending the workshop held under the theme “Innovations to connect the unconnected” at the World Economic forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday.
“Rwanda is shifting the main point of interface between citizens and main public services to national digital platform known as irembo…In education and health sectors we are connecting schools and health centers around the country to broadband allowing teachers, doctors and students to the latest information in real time,” said Kagame.
The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and the World Economic Forum, Lauren Woodman, CEO of NetHope USA, Irina Georgieva Bokova, Director General, UNESCO and Zhao Houlin, Secretary General of the ITU also attended the workshop
While in other parts of the continent, ICT and digital connectivity turned out to be a pipe dream, Rwanda is riding high in ICT by expanding the broadband connectivity to public institutions and education and health sectors to fast-track digital development.
“Without fast and affordable internet access, there are few pathways from poverty to prosperity in the 21st century,” Kagame added.
In a broader manner, President Kagame presented the Rwanda’s achievements realized in the 10 year-long period thanks to public and private partnerships whereby Olleh- a Korean Telecommunication Company- is playing a key role in extending 4G internet connectivity.
“Rwanda’s internet is currently ranked as one of the best on the continent of Africa in terms of affordability. Even so, only one third of Rwandans today have access. However, 10 years ago only 3 percent of Rwandans were connected. That progress while still inadequate was the result of public and private working closely through innovative partnerships,” stressed Kagame.
Kagame also said that technological progress is very possible in other parts of the continent and the world at large, adding that right policies, investments and focus are pre-requisites to achieve it.
The workshop included four simultaneous breakout sessions on: financing ICT connectivity infrastructure; last mile technologies and innovative business models; country partnership models; and the gender digital divide, with the aim of achieving consensus on an action agenda to accelerate digital development in 2017.