Rwanda: a Small Country with Big Tech Ambitions

Over the last few years, Rwanda has emerged as a leader in African nations embracing tech innovation. President Paul Kagame’s government has actively embraced an ambitious legal and policy framework to harness technology to boost economic development.

Some important pillars of Rwanda’s strategy are:

  • building digital literacy by emphasising tech in education and an important component is the One Laptop per Child initiative.

  • establishing Africa’s first electronic world trade platform.

  • government’s embrace of tech innovation and its commitment to creating a policy and legal framework conducive to technological development.

  • investing in an extensive fibre network and infrastructure and a notable achievement was the introduction of free wifi on public transport in 2019.

  • the government has an ambitious plan to achieve, by 2030, a target of birthing 100 Rwandan tech companies valued at $50 million each.

  • marketing the country as a tech-friendly destination and hosting tech events, including the Africa Tech Summit in 2018.

  • creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurship which expedites quick company registrations and offers entrepreneurship-based visas to attract innovators to the nation.

In 2019, the Mara Group unveiled the first smartphone manufactured in Africa and Kagame expressed his hope that this would increase smartphone penetration in the country. Kagame is also enthused about deploying drones (particularly in agriculture and healthcare) and stated his ambition that these should be manufactured locally and piloted by Rwandans. This week the Ministry of Health introduced robots in public healthcare to reduce transmission of COVID-19 between between medics and patients. This initiative is a collaboration between the Rwandan Ministry of ICT and Innovation and the United Nations.

While Rwanda is a small country with a small population relative to other nations, the country seems to punch above its weight in its embrace of innovation.

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