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Paul Kagame on information, broadband, and youth

February 17, 2014  »  Broadband & Education & ICT PolicyNo Comment

Last month, Rwandan President Paul Kagame wrote an editorial (“Ascending Africa: Women And Youth Are Our Assets“) published by The World Post, a partnership of The Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute on Governance. Kagame, known for his laser focus on development, discussed Africa’s rise as an economic power in the context of political stability and international collaboration. Importantly, he also recognized the need for information to fuel the economic growth. In other words, ICT investment should be seen as an essential infrastructure project and it can transform other sectors.

The president cites a couple of statistics that are often used by key ICT stakeholders:

  • Many African countries have a 5% broadband penetration rate or a 13% internet access rate (ITU)
  • Increasing broadband penetration by 10% equates to a 1.4% increase in GDP growth for developing nations (World Bank)

Above all, Kagame stresses the need to empower the youth to realize how they can be innovators. It won’t be easy for most African nations to absorb this cohort (50% of the population is often under the age of 20) into their labor force. They need access to education, vocational skills, and technology. The government needs to enact policies that enable this job creation.

Kagame has laid the groundwork to soon make his country of Rwanda a regional leader in technology. The Rwandan Ministry of Youth and ICT (MYICT) is working hard to make the nation a knowledge-based society. A variety of long-term visions like Vision 2020 and ICT Sector Strategic Plan 2013-2018 are already in place. Finally, the SMART Rwanda initiative will see experts from the World Bank work with local Rwandan experts to help Rwanda achieve its ICT vision.

Update: Paul Kagame also addressed the role of technology in rebuilding a nation at the Wisdom 2.0 Summit in California. He commented on his use of Twitter:

I started using Twitter in 2010. It was very interesting because I found it was cost effective, and you can communicate with the whole population who have access to it. And you get access to information and advice, discussion over a wide range of subjects.”

The President also spoke on technology as a general tool for development:

Technology used to serve people as tools for finding solution is a great thing. It gives technology a real meaning.”

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