A genocide that killed nearly 20% of Rwanda’s entire population, over 70% being of Tutsi decent, during a 100 day massacre has gone down in history as one of the most horrific mass murders of our time. Ending in July 1994, it has been over two decades since the atrocious acts, and Rwanda is still recovering socially, economically, and emotionally.
But recently, Rwanda has taken major steps towards the future, engaging in the growing inspiration of technology, making it one of the most high tech hubs in the region. So can Rwanda leverage technology to rebuild its economy after such long and hard times?
Time Magazine reported in 2015, that Rwanda was making major strides in the field of technology, hoping to be the center piece to Africa’s tech world. Rwanda is expected to rise in population to a whopping 16 million people, and the country is boldly working towards ways to improve the lives of so many, and bring modern conveniences to the middle class. Cassandra Giraldo, a New York based photographer who was covering a story at the time reflected on his visit to the area saying, “It’s apparent if you walk around [the capital city, Kigali]. They have currency with kids on their laptops. Everyone has a cell phone, and these cell phone companies have their advertisements painted all over the country, even if you drive into the rural parks. It’s a very different narrative that we don’t see coming out of East Africa or Africa as a continent.”
Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning outlined the goals of Vision 2020, indicating that the program is setup to build infrastructure and key initiatives to to guide Rwanda to a positive future.
The program hasn’t let the country down in recent years and reports of technology buzzing all around the region is abundant. BBC’s Milton Nkosi visited the country to find people living in the suburb of Gikondo using fast and easy prepaid bus transit cards. The bus was upscale, showcasing a TV and offering music and entertainment. Later he reported visiting a computer manufacturing company, the production floor clean, crisp, and professional as young professionals were standing at the station during the assembly line.
BBC weren’t the only one’s curious about the emerging tech scene in Rwanda and TechCrunch shared their experiences while visiting the up and coming tech hub. Kim-Mai Cutler stated upon arriving in Rwanda, the first thing you notice is how exceptionally clean the streets of Kigali appear. That’s because of a ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags. Once a month, most Rwandans are required to participate in community service days called umuganda, when they clean public spaces. Unlike other African capital cities, it’s perfectly safe to walk around alone at night. With the country reportedly building over 4,500 kilometers of fiber optics throughout the region, it’s not so far fetched that this country is set to take center stage as the Tech Hub of Africa.
Rwanda has a bright future ahead of itself, and such initiatives continue to inspire locals with hope and progress. The country is also forging a future like many other African countries that want to make a global connection and leverage technology to secure this aim. As technology continues to grow at exponential rates, those who are on the cutting edge pose a greater advantage than those who are not, making Rwanda a top contender for the title of “Tech Guru of Africa”.