Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rwanda: Review of the e-Rwanda project aiming at becoming a regional hub for ICTs

[New Times] Two years after its official launch in the country, e-Rwanda Project is said to be performing well in improving service delivery in Information Technology.

Officials from the World Bank and Rwanda IT representatives Monday met in Kigali for a three-day conference with an aim of reviewing the progress of the project, evaluate the challenges encountered so far, and discuss the way forward for the next 18 months when the project ends.

Presiding over the opening sessions of the conference, Minister of Science and Technology in the President's Office Romain Murenzi said the project is in line with the government's vision of becoming a regional ICT hub. He emphasised Rwanda's commitment to connect all corners of the country with the 2000km fibre optic that he said will be completed by early next year.

"As we move into a knowledge - based economy, bandwidth becomes very important for better service delivery," he said. He hailed the input of eRwanda project to make ICT services a reality in the community.

The minister also emphasised the country's initiative to prioritise sciences in education, which he said will boost the country's achievement of its development goals, and noted that to date more than 100,000 laptops have been distributed to students in primary schools. The laptops are being distributed under the One Laptop Per Child programme.

The Deputy CEO of RDB/ IT, Nkubito Bakuramutsa explained that the review of eRwanda project will serve as an opportunity to redefine its objectives and match them with the current situation of the country's vision for effectiveness.

"As you know, aid that is put in technologies is always leading to revenue generation and to self sustained economies," he said as he explained the government's current philosophy while sourcing support from various development partners.

World Bank has so far sunk in US$ 10 million in the project but Nkubito said they would need more support 'to give it a happy ending,' though he could not specifically state how much is needed for the remaining 18 months.

World Bank Acting Country Manager Erik M. Fernstrom appreciated the project's achievements so far, but called for more emphasis and renewed commitment for the next year and a half to make it a success, thus improving on service delivery in all sectors of the country. e-Rwanda project was born in 2006, after consultations between President Paul Kagame and top World Bank officials.

Under this project Rwanda saw many of the ICT-based development activities that include introduction of telecentres in all the districts, computer training for community members, works on the introduction of the fibre optic to connect various regions and the Kalisimbi mast project that will ease broadcasting services in the country.

2,000km Fibre Optic Project on Course

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