Co-Creating a SMART Rwanda, SMART Africa and SMART World
Rwanda is steadily moving towards its vision of becoming an information-rich and knowledge-based economy and society and an ICT hub in the region. This ambition is reflected in Our Vision 2020 and its subsequent mid-term economic development and poverty reduction (the EDPRS II) and the ICT Sector Strategic Plan 2013-2018.
The World Bank has always come in handy to help us achieve our ICT ambitions. In 2011, we successfully wrapped up the eRwanda project, for which we had received a US$10 million grant from the Bank. The Project helped improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our Government’s internal processes and helped in the delivery of applications and services. Through the RCIP project, the World Bank is helping us reduce the cost of international capacity by extending the geographic reach of Rwanda’s broadband networks, giving Rwanda capacity and access to broadband connectivity in the process.
Today, the World Bank is considering providing more support to Rwanda through the SMART Rwanda initiative. For those not in the know, SMART Rwanda is the implementation vehicle for initiatives in the ICT Sector Strategic Plan 2013-2018 very much in the same way eRwanda Project was for the NICI II. We are grateful that experts from the Bank’s ICT Unit took up the initiative to assist our local experts develop the SMART Rwanda Concept.
SMART Rwanda aims to help Rwanda achieve its ICT for Development Vision, one village at a time. We have defined ten verticals (sectors) in which we believe structured deployment of ICTs can have maximum impact. These verticals are SMART Education, SMART Healthcare, SMART Governance, SMART Business, SMART Agriculture, SMART Environment, SMART Job Creation, SMART Infrastructure, SMART Girls and SMART Cities.
The idea is to leverage “lean start-up” approaches to solution design while targeting practical Big Goals in each sector that have not been overcome by more conventional programs. Ultimately, we shall have a list of innovative and immediately applicable ideas to solve the problems or goals in each sector. The key factor in these ideas is that they should be able to implemented quickly, tested for viability, and then scaled up if they are successful. Given Rwanda’s leadership in the area of ICTs, we hope to share the lessons learnt from implementation of the SMART Rwanda Program with our African brothers in particular as well as the ICT world in general.
It is important that stakeholders understand that SMART Rwanda is not one of those fancy plans, coming to introduce new projects while old ones continue to stall or turn out to be white elephants. Indeed, the crux of SMART Rwanda is to do thing smartly. That is to do more with less more transparently.
Key to the success of SMART Rwanda is sustainability of all our interventions. Our strategy will be to rely on the much needed private sector resources and capabilities. Unlike previously where programs of this type have been driven and sustained by the Government, the SMART Rwanda program will be private sector-driven to avoid the risk of them turning out to be white elephants. The Government of Rwanda acknowledges that Government is not a good businessman and implementer of projects. Our approach will be to intervene in only those indispensable public good projects where it does not make business sense for private sector actors to invest or to invest in early-stage ventures so as to showcase opportunity and stimulate future private sector investment.
Consequently, the projects that will be implemented under the SMART Rwanda programs will include both new innovative projects as well as those that are already being implemented in a less smart way.
I invite you all to join this crowd-sourcing exercise. Please feel free to share experiences and ideas about how we can achieve our ambitions to make Rwanda SMART via Twitter using the Hashtag #SMARTRwanda or Tweet to the handle @MyictRwanda
Hon. Jean Philbert Nsengimana
Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT