The Government has earmarked a total amount of US$1billion (Frw560bn) to be invested in establishing and promoting telecentres in the country. The Executive Director of the Rwanda Information and Technology Agency (RITA) Dr. Shem J. Ochuodho made the disclosure last week, during a Community Information Centres' (CICs) workshop organised by RITA and the Ministry of Infrastructure at Novotel Hotel. "The money will be used in accelerating the establishment of telecentres and providing necessary operating equipment, as a move to enable people in rural areas access information vital for their development from the rest of the world," Ochuodho said. He emphasised that telecentres play a vital role in the development of the country by bridging the information gap between the local communities and the government.

He further told the stakeholders who included the Minister of State in charge of Energy and Communications Eng. Albert Butare (pictured), the RITA Chairman of the Board of Directors Prof. Silas Lwakabamba and several representatives of telecommunications companies that, "telecentres provide multi-purpose services through information, skills and consultancy, and business support by reducing the cost of doing business and business transactions between companies."

The State Minister for Communications Eng. Butare pledged government's commitment to ensure the spread of information and communication technology (ICT) to rural areas, in a bid to supplement poverty reduction strategies.

"The government's commitment is envisaged in the integrated ICT policy of NICI II that emphasizes communication access to rural areas. It is clear that the telecentres will help in closing the communication gap among the rural people and the government is ready to invest in the establishment," Butare underscored.

He added that the telecentre project is aimed at transforming Rwanda into an ICT literate nation. "The project is a way of improving access to information to enhance educational standards and to foster human resource development of Rwandans," the Minister added.

Terracom's Charles Semapondo said that telecentres act as 'universal accesses,' where people access information and acquire knowledge using cost effective and convenient methods.

"Telecentrers lead to job-creation, sustainable growth and investing in poor people to facilitate their participation in the development," Semapondo explained.

The New Times