Rwanda’s Vision 2020 embraced many strategies for poverty reduction and social transformation. The government implemented the Rwanda Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) from 2002 to 2008. The Economic Development & Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) Phase 1 (2008-2012) and Phase 2 (2013-2017) replaced the PRSP. All these strategies recognise Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a key enabler for building a knowledge-based economy. The following policies have been fundamental to achieving this aim:
From 2001 to 2005
The National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) Phase 1 focused on creating and enabling an ICT environment through institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks. As a result, the number of internet users grew up from 25,000 in 2002 to over 1.4 million in 2016.
From 2006 to 2010
- The NICI Phase 2 focused on building ICT infrastructure. Under this initiative:
- Rwanda built a National Data Centre to host public and private applications & services. This reduced the cost and increased the reliability and security of data.
- In December 2010, Rwanda completed its “National Backbone Project” that established a fibre optic backbone covering 3,000km across the country.
From 2011 to 2015
- The NICI Phase 3 focused on building efficient government services and increasing productivity of the private sector through ICT. Some key results were:
- Liquid telecom started offering high-speed fibre network (100Mbps) to homes and small businesses; that was the core trigger of the surge of fixed broadband internet subscribers from 2,917 in 2014 to 21,125 in 2015.
- The government launched several services targeting businesses (G2B) and citizens (G2C). For instance, Irembo (the Kinyarwanda word for “gateway”) was launched in 2015. Irembo is an e-government portal that improves citizen’s way of life by making public services easier, faster and less costly to access.
- Prominent African heads of states convened in Kigali and signed the SMART Africa Manifesto which aims to speed up the continent’s socio-economic development through ICT. This will lead Africa into a knowledge-based economy through affordable broadband and the usage of information and communication technologies.
From 2015 to 2020
The SMART Rwanda Master Plan focuses on transforming the country into a knowledge-based economy. The plan aims at establishing a Service-oriented, Modern, Accountable and Real-time (SMART) government that will drive Rwanda to become a competitive, agile, open and innovative smart economy economy. Embracing ICT innovation will create a conducive business environment that attracts large-scale investments, rewards entrepreneurs and enables fast growth and exports.
Since 2017, Rwanda embarked on a new wave of social transformation, shaping its journey towards the new Vision 2050. The Vision 2050 aspires to upgrade Rwandans’ living standards to a high quality by the middle of the 21st century. Some initiatives to be taken under the Vision 2050 were outlined in the National Strategy for Transformation (NST). The first phase will last for seven years – ending in 2024. Like its preceding strategies, the NST 1 emphasises ICT as a key driver of main economic sectors such as education, manufacturing and health.