Digital Transformation Center Rwanda
The work of the Digital Transformation Center Rwanda is closely aligned with regional digital policy needs and the Rwandan development agenda. Aiming to connect public and private stakeholders as well as to promote digital participation, the DTC cooperates with numerous partners and at the same time advises the government on digital policy issues.
At a glance
Rwanda’s national development agenda aims to move the country from a subsistence economy to a knowledge- and service-oriented society. The increased use of information and communication technologies (ICT) is seen as a prerequisite for achieving the national development goals. Rwanda has succeeded in translating the expansion of ICT infrastructure and digital capacity building into strategies that build on one another. This comprehensive strategic framework and the ambitious development goals are offset by very limited control and coordination capacities on sides of the responsible Ministry for Youth and ICT and the authority currently responsible for implementation, the Rwanda Development Board. The capital, Kigali, has a basic physical infrastructure for the innovation and start-up scene. Additionally, there are other innovation centers that are operated independently of from the government. However, the potential of this innovation ecosystem has not yet been exploited economically or politically. The promotion of ICT and digital development also includes special programs to empower women and girls. Nevertheless, gender inequality still exists in Rwanda. Inequality also exists between urban and rural populations: Despite a positive development, 49% of the rural population, compared to 22% of the urban population, still lives below the poverty line.
In summary, existing capacities and structures are not yet sufficiently developed to meet the set goals in the aforementioned areas.
In order to address these challenges together with the Rwandan government, the Digital Transformation Center Rwanda was opened jointly by Günter Nooke (Personal Representative for Africa of the German Chancellor at the BMZ) and the Rwandan ICT Minister Paula Ingabire in May 2019 in Kigali. The work priorities are closely aligned with the Rwandan development agenda and address the most pressing digital policy issues.
The Digital Transformation Center Rwanda therefore advises the government on the development of digital solutions in line with its regional needs. In addition, the center integrates the Make-IT Initiative for tech entrepreneurship, the FAIR Forward project for artificial intelligence, and online platform atingi to strengthen the field of e-learning and blended learning. The Digital Transformation Center also cooperates closely with Smart Africa, an alliance of 30 African heads of state and government who have set themselves the goal of creating a common, African, digital single market.
The Digital Transformation Center Rwanda focuses on 3 objectives:
1. Strengthening collaboration between public and private actors for digital transformation.
2. Developing digital participation initiatives in collaboration between public and private actors.
3. Strengthening the capacity of public and private actors for service delivery in the context of Rwanda’s digital transformation.
Important milestones in the work of the Digital Transformation Center include the development of innovative solutions for agricultural irrigation and rainfall forecasting, the optimization of public transportation, and an affordable digitalized system for the demand-oriented use of gas for cooking (pay-as-you-cook). Other projects include the development of a language dataset in Kinyarwanda as a basis for voice assistance systems in collaboration with FAIR Forward and a prototype for a user-friendly, standardized government website. Furthermore, a seamless supply chain for blood reserves via drones was successfully established with the partner Wingcopter. In addition, a mobile app and web platform gives refugee women access to finance in the form of loans, training and investment opportunities.
Besides specific projects, the Digital Transformation Center Rwanda regularly holds training courses on the topics Internet of Things and machine learning. In total, several hundred participants were able to deepen their knowledge in these areas in 4-day deep dive courses.