Towards Transforma...

Towards Transformation??ICT in Post-Conflict Rwanda

Following the violent genocide and civil war in 1994, Rwanda has seen considerable progress on the path towards recovery and sustainable growth. Notable in this effort has been a strong and sustained emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT). Starting from dire conditions, the country has put ICT at the core of a reform agenda geared towards reconstruction and higher levels of development.

This report describes the ICT reform process that Rwanda has begun around 2000, and provides an overview of policies and programs that have shaped the country’s attempts at economic transformation. It recounts the NICI plans in the context of Vision 2020 and highlights four notable case studies of ICT projects, namely the Karisimbi Project, the eRwanda program, TRACnet, and One Laptop Per Child. The report finds that neither the strategies nor the specific programs have been without their troubles, and ICT has certainly not been a cure-all in post-conflict Rwanda. Yet, the manner in which technology has been employed—especially with high-level support—contains lessons for other countries seeking to emerge from difficult situations.

The study concludes that Rwanda’s remaining ICT challenges mainly concern structural and cultural change. For instance, awareness for the benefits of ICT is still not widespread and a labor force highly skilled in ICT is still more an aspiration than a reality. Increasing Internet access and the number of devices used by the population has not delivered the hoped-for results. Finally, a fledgling private sector has not yet grown enough to make the ICT sector broadly independent of government and donor funding. As other countries seek to use ICT to upgrade their competitiveness, Rwanda provides a rich case study, illustrating both what is possible in the tumult of post-conflict situations and the difficulty of coordinating and enabling widespread economic and social transformation.

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