Tag Archives: ICT Strategy

Rwanda: An African Tech Hub?

Aware of the “leap-frog” potential of ICTs, the East-African nation of Rwanda, impaired by a lack of natural recourses, overcrowding, wide-spread poverty and a particularly violent past, is determined to become the region’s technological-hub. A grand ambition for a small agrarian society, but given the country’s meteoric development in the past decade under the stringent, but efficient, rule of President Paul Kagame, it’s a realistic one.

Rwanda is marginalized geographically, economically and politically; other than tea and coffee, it has no inherent natural recourses, its landlocked with not the best of neighbors — e.g. the D.R.C., with which Rwanda has had ongoing conflict since 1994. Thus, it makes sense that the Government of Rwanda is trying to take advantage of a commodity that is cheaply exportable anywhere in the world at the dial of a phone number or click of button: ICT services. To this end, the Rwandan government has invested massive amounts of money towards the development of a first-class, globally-appealing ICT infrastructure, in the hopes that they can foster a competitive ICT-private sector — the Government of Rwanda is rather explicit about this . For example, the following graphic from Rwanda’s initial ICT strategy document depicts the government’s desired transition from an agrarian based economy to a service based economy of which ICT is the main component:

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 8.11.07 PM

This is still a work in progress. Despite unparalleled investment and attention towards ICT sector development, Rwanda somewhat lags behind its neighbors when it comes to service exports, as seen in the data table below from the World Bank.

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 6.05.38 PMThese relatively low numbers are mostly due to an inexperienced, uneducated population when it comes to ICTs, something the government is determinedly addressing through hundreds of education initiatives, including ICT specific universities and an ICT park in the capital city of Kigali.

The ultimate fruition of Government of Rwanda’s goals may have yet to be realized, but it is a work-in-progress, and the country has come a long way since the 1994 war. Rwanda continues to invest millions of aid and  1.6 percent of its GDP towards ICT sector development annually. One thing is for certain: the Rwandan government certainly believes ICTs are its ticket to middle income status.


World Bank ICT Strategies

The World Bank is an international organization that manages the distribution of aid and makes loans to developing countries, with the goal of reducing poverty and spurring development. In June of 2012, the World Bank updated its ICT strategy, previously revised in 2001, to reflect the progress of ICT’s in the past decade. The strategy is focused around three pillars: transform, innovate, and connect.

Transform: “Making development more open and accountable, and improving service delivery – for instance, education, health, and financial services” .1) open and accountable development using ICTs: This strategy point focuses on using ICTs to increase government accountability and the availability of information and data. This requires cross-sector cooperation between government, civil society and businesses to improve the delivery of services, as well as citizen feedback systems. Given the World Bank’s focus on aid, this strategy emphasizes the use of ICTs in monitoring aid programs in order to evaluate and maximize their efficiency. Also, this point recognizes the ability of ICTs to empower and involve women in society. 2) transformation of service delivery: This point focuses on the delivery of services in the sectors of health, education, social protection, justice, agriculture, water, energy, and transport. The WB recognizes the widespread use of mobiles, and their strategy promotes them as the most effective way to get services to those who need them most. This point also stresses the need to coordinate services between sectors, so there is less overlap and more convenience for citizens. 3) projects: an open and free World Bank database; initiatives to inform citizens about projects in their country and increase their involvement; a more selective and restrictive allocation of funds to IT investments because of their high failure rates.

Innovate: “Developing competitive IT-based service industries and fostering ICT innovation across the economy – with a focus on job creation, especially for women and youth” 1) competitiveness: by giving incentives to the private sector to develop ICTs and establishing regulations to build trust in the ICT sector governments can enhance competition and therefore drive down costs of ICTs, making them affordable to a larger population. This point also mentions the usefulness of mobile banking in helping small businesses get financing. 2) IT-based services: governments need to play an active role (tech parks, infrastructure, etc.). Building IT skills is essential. The best ways to do this are through curriculum integration at the secondary and tertiary levels, investment in R&D, and standard testing in the IT field. 3) ICT entrepreneurship: In order to support business start up, countries should provide training and reasonably priced start-up space. Another feasible strategy is to promote clustering of IT businesses for cooperation and knowledge sharing. 4) Bottom-up, user-centric approach: Introduces the concept of “light innovation” which is an inexpensive, decentralized and fast moving model for innovation. It focuses on innovation from the user perspective, using community networks to produce ICT solutions.

Connect: “Scaling up affordable access to broadband – including for women, disabled citizens, disadvantaged communities, and people living in remote and rural areas” 1) Promoting affordable and accessible broadband services: Broadband service is expected to require more government intervention than voice telephony. Therefore, countries should expect to allocate more time and resources towards the development of these services. One way this can be done is through removing obstacles and giving incentives for the private sector to invest in broadband in underdeveloped regions.

The World Bank is in an excellent position to insure that its policy strategies such as this one are carried out. One of the implementation methods is for the World Bank to be more conservative with its available development funds. The countries that are seen as compliant with this ICT strategy will be allocated more aid from these funds than those that are not. Needless to say, this is a very powerful economic incentive. Out of the current World Bank projects, the World Bank claims that 74% of them have an ICT component. It recognizes the need to improve this number, and this new strategy is seen as what will be an effective way of doing so. It will be interesting to see if this new strategy will effect how countries approach ICT4D and if their funding from the World Bank will be altered.


Government Push for National ICT4D in Ecuador

Ecuadorian National ICT Resources

  1. National ICT Policy/Plan/Strategy

This article discusses Ecuador’s National ICT plan when ICT discussion became prevalent in 2007 some years after the 1999 financial banking crisis. However, it takes a very theoretical approach to ICT policy without very specific information on how this national policy will be organized for implementation. This plan was written in part by the following organizations:

CONATEL (National Council for Telecommunications)

SENATEL  (National Secretary for Telecommunications)

Last Updated: 2007     Language: Spanish

CONATEL, National Strategy for Electronic Government

Public Google Document   Language: Spanish

2. Government Website/Webpage

National Plan for Universal Access and Digital Readiness, On-line Government and Broadband Development          Last Updated: 2/21/13      Language: Spanish

3. External (non-government) Resources

GISWatch serves as a compilation of various reports including the original CONATEL “Libro Blanco” or White Paper on Developing Ecuador’s Information Society.

  • Other ICT Policy Reports Included:

GIT “Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World

International Telecommunication Union 2012 “Measuring the Information Society

4. Notes on Research Process

Although it was initially difficult for me to find ICT policy work or even statistics, I found that there is plenty of information available if searched in Spanish. In doing so I was able to find a number of Spanish government documents since Ecuador especially has multiple government organizations working in telecommunications. Although this does mean that there is duplication and overlap of work, it does provide researchers with a number of resources to choose from including MINTEL, CONATEL, SENATEL, CONARTEL and SUPTEL. Additionally, I would highly recommend a strong knowledge of Spanish in order to navigate the many government documents available on Ecuador’s National ICT Policy.