GOVERNMENT HAS AMBITIOUS PLANS IN ITS VISION 2020

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In 1990s, the Government came up with Vision 2020. It wanted to see Rwanda make the transition from an agricultural economy into knowledge and service-based economy. The Vision was set up with a NICI structure, putting in place four 5 year plans.

The first of these NICIs ended in December 2005. It put in place a skeletal HR structure with ICT s in all ministries and interconnected all of them. A few ministries went further and put in information management system. There were also things like implementing a passport management system. It currently has 253 VSAT installations and the Government spends 2% of its overall expenditure on ICT.

NICI – 2 is being validated by stakeholders and is being taken to Cabinet to be given the go-ahead. It contains 103 things described as “solutions” and is costed at between $120-150 million. It includes implementing a national ID card system using a smart card that will have an integrated financial capacity.

The key agency behind the strategy is the Rwanda IT Agency that comes under the Ministry of Infrastructure. Its Board Chairman is the Rector of Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and other Board members are drawn from the private sector and the President’s office. RITA sees itself as a facilitating and implementation agency, taking the second NICI and turning it into a reality.

It houses the local internet exchange, RIXP, runs the top level domain and has software and hardware laboratories. It also has plans to do commercial software development. It is working with the World Bank on the e-Rwanda project. According to the CEO of RITA, Peter Fullerton:”This will inject a fast track element of NICI implementation, putting $15 million into “quick-wins”, including community access. E-enabling government and some element of health sector, education and schools”.

RITA also runs its building as “an ICT park”. It is visting China to talk to tech companies there to get someone to build mobile phones in Rwanda. It will build a car battery powered computer called Kivutech PC (costing $6-800) and has ambitious plans to create a software industry around it. It is building up RITA up as an incubation unit.

According to Fullerton the advantages of Rwanda are:”It is tri-lingual with both French and English. It is slap bang in the centre of Africa. There will soon be a railway line through Tanzania to Kigali and with the arrival of EASSy it will have an excellent fibre connection. There are two excellent technological universities. The political leadership of the country is very open and smart. There is a straightforward legal framework of English and French origin. It relatively corruption free. But above all, there is a nationalistic desire to succeed and a desire to learn and do things well.”