Digitization as a source of orientation for the development of African countries in a new ICT world.

‘’African countries are invited to use digitization as a tool for sustainable development in a new globalized digital world where digitalization is playing an important role in production and consumption of goods and services. These same states are called upon to provide a code of laws for users.’’

These recommendations are from the booklet “What is Digitalization? Opportunities and Challenges in East-Africa” presented on May, 1st 2020 in a digital discussion organized by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES Rwanda).

Addressing to the conference, Jean Claude Muhire, the FES Rwanda program coordinator, explained the essence of digitalization basing on a booklet by Hannah Sausen, a political scientist and author of the publication.

Muhire shared experience of Rwanda where essential services that are offered by both the government and the private sector, went online amidst  the country’s total lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

‘’We are in a lockdown period; we could suffer but with the internet, Rwanda and other African countries’ services have been saved. Due to the internet our life has become easy; the opportunities of work have become a click away '', he noted.

Jean Claude Muhire underscored that the countries from across the world were fostering digitalization in their day-to-day endeavors notably in initiating artificial intelligence, e-commerce, and industrialization among other activities thanks to the use of internet.

“Internet has become an essential tool in people’s daily activities as it actually provides reliable information that is crucial for economic growth. In many of African countries, students are currently studying online – what would happen, if this wouldn’t be possible?” he asked.

Speaking during the virtual meeting, Hannah Sausen, Political Scientist from Bonn / Germany, challenged governments and institutions to make sure that they use a language that “is understandable to everyone,” and “to ensure no one is lagged behind in digitalization”.

Hannah commended Rwanda’s efforts geared towards digitalizing in almost all the services noting that ICT should be fostered everywhere with much emphasis on rural areas.

She assured that they were set to avail the Kinyarwanda version to ensure that its content reaches a good number of Rwandans. “As it has been raised as a matter of concern to have this book in Kinyarwanda, I am assuring you that we are obviously working on it, digitalization is a daily necessity as it is stipulated in this book and it benefits everyone especially women to overcome fear, and as it is my observation; the Rwanda society is ready to exploit digitalization though there are still the need to enact laws to consider,” She said.

According to Mr. Origene Igiraneza, CEO of Ogenius a specialized company in ICT, the Priority went on to call on African governments and partners to invest in digitalization if they are to develop the continent by particularly empowering  youth and women to ensure that no one is lagged behind.

“We need to build the capacity of young generations who are increasingly exploiting the internet. The latter is nowadays the channel towards employment. There is also a need to empower women as they are left behind in internet use,” He noted “

However, Origene challenged African governments to enact laws tightening noose on cybercrime to curb misinformation and disinformation that continue to arise amidst the internet usage. “It is crucial to have in place law on cyber security to ensure people are protected from cybercrimes as it is the case in some countries. The law will help internet users to bear in minds that they will be held accountable of whatsoever they share on the internet,” suggested Origene.

Government of Rwanda has unveiled an online service portal dubbed ‘IremboGov’ in a move to ease the way people access to several of public services. Most of the speakers in the virtual meeting noted that Irembo Gov was bearing fruits, stressing that the rest of African countries should borrow a leaf for the entire country to go digital.

In another intervention, it was noted that Rwanda was on track towards exploiting digitalization in various activities, notably transportation, Government services and health among other services.

“Rwanda has availed whatever it takes for digitalization to thrive, one can get a number of services from both the Government and private sector without necessarily leaving home, you now have all you need with your handset. Everyone is almost involved given the use of Mobile Money which is a typical example of digitalization,” one of the participants said.

At the end the conference moderator Yvette Ishimwe thanked all the participants for taking their time, she also encouraged them to participate in other activities organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES Rwanda).

Find here the booklet “What is Digitalization? Opportunities and Challenges in East-Africa” 

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