The Rwandan government is highly committed to harnessing the power of ICTs to tackle social challenges across all sectors. During a recent trip to Rwanda, I was fortunate enough to meet with several government officials and their partners to get a sense of some of the work they are doing in this space.
I met with David Kanimugire, ICT advisor to the Minister of Science, Technology and Science Research, who is exploring ways to open up government, in line with the Open Government Partnership, which supports governments across the world that are interested in the principles of openness, transparency and citizen empowerment and engagement. David expressed the government’s commitment to these principles, though currently they are still at the conceptual stage of engagement.
I showcased some of our grantees and David was hugely enthusiastic about the concepts presented to him and hopes to pilot several tech for social change projects in due course.
I was also introduced to Patrick Nyirishema, head of ICT at Rwanda Development Board, who is interested in establishing an innovation hub and incubator in Rwanda. They have already started exploring their role in contributing to this. He also expressed interest in harnessing the power of technology to stimulate entrepreneurship, particularly targeting women and young people and in using ICTs in education.
I also met with the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) team in Rwanda, who are funded by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The AGI team are working across governmental departments to build strategic and staff capacity and strengthen service delivery. They take their lead from the government and trust the people they work with. Their main areas of focus are investment, agriculture, electricity and mining. They were keen to explore the ways in which technology can contribute towards their aims and other development outcomes, taking The Minister in the Office of the President in charge of ICT, Dr. Ignace Gatare’s lead on which concepts to take forward.
I also met with Paul Kaiser, head of the Democracy and Governance team at USAID in Rwanda which aims to strengthen governance in a number of ways with a particular focus on citizen participation. They are currently concentrating on land tenure, government capacity building, the private sector and civil society. In addition, they are supporting community radio platforms and access to information. He believes that government is hugely committed to ending corruption and interventions in this space could be hugely impactful.
I was delighted to take part in such animated conversations with government officials interested in ensuring that Rwanda takes a lead in the field of technology on the continent.