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Rwanda has been ranked among the top 10 countries in Africa that are in better position to benefit from new information and communication technologies.
The 2013 Networked Readiness Index, released on Wednesday by the World Economic Forum (Wef) and European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD), considers several aspects, including a country’s market and regulatory framework in advancing ICT for inclusive development.
INSEAD is one of the world’s largest graduate business schools, with campuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, as well as a research centre in Israel.
The survey that assesses the capacity of 144 developed and developing economies to leverage ICT for growth and well-being, ranks Rwanda top in East Africa, 6th in Africa and 88th globally with a score of 3.68.
Mauritius ranks first in Africa and 55th globally with a score of 4.12, followed by South Africa on 70th (3.87), Seychelles (79th with a score of 3.80), Egypt on 80th position scoring 3.78, Cape Verde (81st with a score of 3.78) and Rwanda.
The report, titled “Growth and Jobs in a Hyper-connected World”, recommends that national policies in some developing economies are failing to translate ICT investment into tangible benefits in terms of competitiveness, development and employment.
The Global Information Technology Report 2013 says Finland comes first in the world with a score of 5.98, followed by Singapore with 5.96 and Sweden with 5.91 in the third position.
The findings dwell on each country’s ICT infrastructure, cost of access and the presence of the necessary skills to ensure an optimal use, use of ICT among governments, business and individuals, business and innovation environment, the political and regulatory framework and economic and social impacts accruing from ICT.
“Despite initial concerns that ICT would hasten the deployment of resources towards developing countries, the benefits are now widely recognised as an important way for companies and economies to optimise productivity, free up resources, boost innovation and job creation,” said Beñat Bilbao-Osorio, senior economist, global competitiveness and benchmarking network, WEF, and co-editor of the report.
The survey states that despite progress, Latin America and the Caribbean still face connectivity challenges, while sub-Saharan Africa ICT usage remains very low, even though nations continue to build ICT infrastructure. In the Middle East and North Africa, ICT investment and use is sharply divided.
The report recognises Rwanda’s efforts to transform its agrarian economy into a knowledge-based one by 2020, using ICT.
“Rwanda’s ICT investments in education, partnerships with foreign universities and the laying of fibre-optic cables have created a conducive environment. Services such as E-Soko, a mobile service that allows farmers to check market prices for their products, have already improved the daily life of many Rwandans,” the report says.
It adds: “With the help of these new technologies, Rwanda intends to capitalise on its central location in Africa and act as a hub for banking, financial and outsourcing services.”
Speaking to The New Times, yesterday, Alex Ntale, the director of ICT chamber at Private Sector Federation, said: “it’s a testimony of what good governance and strong private sector can achieve with commitment and support of responsive public institutions.”
Rwanda has been on several occasions ranked among the most dynamic performers when it comes to ICT development globally.
Last year, the International Telecommunication Union report named Rwanda, Bahrain, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia as developing nations with strong dynamic ICT markets because of catching up fast in efforts to bridge the ‘digital divide’.
To advance ICT growth, Rwanda plans to establish an ICT park that will be a base of technological investments, including training, industries, research and development. The country has also laid a robust 2,500-kilometre national fibre optic cable that seeks to enhance access to various broadband services and the National Data Centre.
“Individual countries need to identify the digital divide gap in order to fulfill long-term growth, competitiveness and innovation targets,” said Bruno Lanvin, the executive director INSEAD and co-editor of the report.
To maximise the country’s ICT infrastructure, Rwandan information technology students and fresh graduates are actively engaged in software applications, thanks to kLab innovation centre—an open technology hub for IT entrepreneurs.
Contact email: frank.kanyesigye[at]newtimes.co.rw