Rwandans are required to log onto an online public platform to apply for an Identity card, driving permit, land title and many more – gradually, the use of papers will become history.
In the next two years, about 5 million Rwandans will have acquired skills to use the internet to help them in their daily activities. The government targets to significantly digitise the population by 2019.
Through a new youth-led initiative Digital Ambassador Program (DAP) announced on Monday, 5,000 youth will first be trained and later dispatched to all 30 districts in the country. They will offer digital skills training to 5 million Rwandans so they can access online opportunities and e-government services.
“The Digital Ambassador Program is a great initiative to achieve Rwanda’s Digital Talent Policy objectives. We strongly believe that digital literacy combined with internet access for all will accelerate Rwanda’s digital transformation toward a Smart Nation,” said Jean Philbert Nsengimana Minister of Youth and ICT.
Through a well coordinated partnership involving Rwanda’s ICT ministry, Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT)- a youth-led development model and the World Economic Forum’s Internet for All Northern Corridor initiative, the Digital Ambassador Program was created.
According to experts, digital literacy combined with internet access for all will accelerate Rwanda’s digital transformation toward a Smart Nation.
Nadine Umuhire a graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering works with DOT Rwanda; She trains marginalised community members aged between 16 and 40 in information technology, life skills and micro-enterprise development to improve their livelihoods and incomes.
“In 10 months I have helped more than 400 youth and women to identify and market their talents, market research, business planning, and sourcing finance opportunities. Most of our participants have improved or started their own businesses, got jobs, or gone for further studies,” Umuhire said.
“The Rwanda Digital Ambassador Program is an example of the innovation and collaboration between government, civil society, and other key stakeholders that will mark a significant step forward to achieving our objective of adding 25 million new internet users to the region by 2019,” said Alex Wong, WEF Internet for All steering committee member.
DAP partners will collaborate based on core principles that respect and respond to the needs of local Rwandans, empower young women and men to become digital champions in their communities, and meet the unique needs of Rwandan women and girls.
Knowledge based economy
Rwanda aims at establishing a knowledge-based economy as part of requirements to attain a middle-income status by 2020.
Therefore to transform into an IT-literate nation, there is need to promote deployment and utilization of ICTs, improving infrastructure, transforming educational systems using ICTs, and improving human resource development capacities to meet demands of the economy.
Since 2009, landlocked Rwanda with a population of 12million laid over 3,000km of fibre optic cable.
In November 2014 the country switched to high speed internet – fourth Generation Long-Term Evolution (4G-LTE). By December 2015, the network had reached 26 of the 30 districts of Rwanda.
The target is to extend 4G network to 95% of Population by end of 2017 and also export to neighbouring countries.
Government has since established an online platform Irembo – a One Stop Shop for all services to citizen and business.
According to the 2015 ICT Sector report, “more than 30 services are on Irembo platform while more than 100 are already digitized under the respective institutions platforms.”
The objective is to achieve a fully cashless and digital government with at least 95% of all transactions happening electronically by 2017.
Meanwhile, Rwanda is nurturing a computer literate generation – over 250,000 laptops have been distributed in 407 primary schools enabling 2.5 million children to access computers, making it the 3rd largest deployment in the world after Peru and Uruguay-under the ‘One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project.