Rwanda is different. Driving from the airport to the center of the capital Kigali, you feel a bit like in the Tuscany in Italy. Green alleys and red-roofed houses in „the land of a thousand hills“. As an European you might forget that you are only some 200 km away from the equator, in the middle of the African continent.
Rwanda is one of the best organized countries in Africa. It ranks 2nd in Gallup’s Law and Order Index 2018 and 4th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2018. It is probably the cleanest country on the continent, as it was first in Africa to ban plastic bags already in 2008 (!) and it is organizing regular cleaning campaigns by its population.
Economically, in 2018 Rwanda was the fastest growing country in Sub-Sahara Africa (8,6%) and is projected to continue with the same pace (World Economic Outlook, IMF, April 2019).
In Rwanda, innovations drive development. The country has become a show-case how the digital transformation changes the world.
That is why I am here. To prepare our „Learning Journey to Digital Rwanda“, which will take place on August 26-29, 2019.
Many of us in Europe don’t know that a digital transformation is taking place in Africa at all. But the „net“ has penetrated all societies on earth and is diffusing into more and more areas of life. In Africa, by the year 2000 the mobile phone revolution kickstarted the access to the global knowledge base. Since then, traditional societies are changing. And – be aware! – pre-modern traditions are changing the digital society.
Rwanda sees itself as the „leading ICT-Hub in Africa“. When it comes to e-governance, citizens already handle their health issues or housing building permits online. By 2024 the entire government administration shall be digitized, with citizens‘ access 24 hours a day.
Rwandans in remote villages use an artificial intelligence-based algorithm on their mobile phones to get diagnoses for their health problems. And doctors in Kigali consult their colleagues through telemedicine. Blood and medicine are delivered by drones. From Rwanda’s e-health system European countries can learn.
Preparing for August
In our 4-day Learning Journey in August we will get to the bottom auf the digital transformation in Rwanda. We will create the space for encounters, visits and discussions with entrepreneurs, startups, managers, professors, politicians and others.
After an introduction by the Rwanda Development Board we will visit Ms Faith Keza, the young Lady running Irembo, the e-government platform. And we will visit an Energytech company and software developers. Ending then with a networking event in the backyard “garage” of a startup.
At Fred Swaneker‘s African Leadership University we will discuss Africa‘s contribution to the digital society. And we will visit the Startup House and get to know some of these young entrepreneurs. In the afternoon we will visit ZIPLINE, the world‘s first cargo drone line.
Rwanda‘s e-health system, a company providing connectivity, an university engaged in artificial intelligence, that will be the morning program. In the afternoon we go out of the city, to visit new forms of agricultural entrepreneurship ventures.
At the Kigali‘s „Innovation City“ we will have talks with Volkswagen‘s „Moving Rwanda“ initiative and a new smart phone production facility. After visiting the pan-African IT education initiative „Andela“ we will finally visit the Genocide Memorial.
After Nairobi, now Kigali. I am very much looking forward to this in-depth encounter of a place, where important parts of the future of our planet are created.