A vision for a SMART Rwanda
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. But more guidance is needed to ensure all of society is included in the goals.
As part of the latter plan, the World Bank plans to provide even more support to ICT development through the SMART Rwanda initiative. Basically, experts from the World Bank will work with local Rwandan experts to help Rwanda achieve its 2018/2020 ICT vision. Importantly, and unlike most projects in the past, the SMART program will be heavy on private sector involvement.
Key to the success of SMART Rwanda is the sustainability of all our interventions. Our strategy will be to rely on the much needed private sector resources and capabilities” – Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwandan Minister of Youth and ICT
To provide order to the initiative, SMART Rwanda is broken down into 10 sectors (education, healthcare, etc.). A list of immediately applicable ideas will be generated to address problems in each vertical. The exercise was fueled by crowd-sourced ideas which were then be discussed by MYICT on June 17-18. In this innovative step, anyone from around the world could submit recommendations to the Rwandan Ministry of how to create a smarter Rwanda.
There were 82 crowd-sourced ideas. The top rated ideas submitted by the international community (based on 397 votes) included:
- Business: digitize company records on an open data public portal, establish Angel Fund, add a department at Rwanda Development Board to assist entrepreneurs
- Environment: public parks with free wireless connections, link sensors to ‘open data’ platform
- Farmers: mobile marketplace apps combined with offline systems to get products to market at the best prices
- Girls: support girl-centric apps, create tech camps
- Government: establish coding pilot to build open data tools, adopt formal open data policy
- Healthcare: digitize public health system data
- Infrastructure: create an open data portal for all infrastructure plans
- Job Creation: train university students to earn income from global work platforms
- Kigali: introduce e-government to city council, support ICT hubs
- Schools: teach computer programming, enable students to give their solutions to problems, utilize online classes, run pilots using e-readers and e-books
After the project is successfully completed (we are optimistic!) the World Bank will share learnings with the world. Hopefully other countries can benefit from a similar approach of targeting key ICT sectors using learn start-up approaches.