Technology and Innovation in Rwanda

Technology and digitalisation

Technology and Innovation in Rwanda

Commentary
Posted on: 13th August 2009

During the visit, Mr Blair met President Kagame, saw examples of the country's impressive economic growth and had the chance to speak with Rwandan public servants, investors and entrepreneurs about the challenges in driving forward Rwanda's ambitious development goals.

Tony Blair said: "These are difficult times for leaders everywhere. But thanks to President Kagame's extraordinary leadership, and the progress this country has made, Rwanda today has the strength and resilience to weather the global financial crisis and the threat of regional instability. It is a privilege for me to help the President deliver his ambitious agenda in any way I can."

During the two day long trip, Tony Blair visited a fast-growing agricultural business outside Kigali to see how new technologies were modernising agriculture in Rwanda. He also spent time meeting young entrepreneurs at Kigali's technology park, Telecom House. The park, a recently developed public-private partnership in which the government provides office space and internet support for up-and-coming information technology businesses, aims to help Rwanda achieve its goal of becoming the modern, dynamic ICT hub for East Africa.

Speaking to young business people at the technology park, Tony Blair said: "It is impressive to see Rwanda embracing technology and innovation to drive forward its own development. I strongly believe that Africa - and Rwanda - will only be able to reduce its dependence on foreign aid by growing its private sector. Technology is a key part of building a strong and prosperous economy in Rwanda and connecting it to the rest of the world, and I remain committed to helping the President and the new Rwanda Development Board attract investment to meet this goal."

Tony Blair also spent time with his team of expert staff, who have been in the country since July 2008, working at the heart of the Rwandan Government to build capacity and attract private sector investment. In a special session with Rwandan public servants and staff from the country's first think tank, the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR), Mr Blair heard directly about progress made, and the challenges in driving forward Rwanda's development.

He emphasised the need for strong systems, processes and support around the President, the Prime Minister, and throughout government, and said that it was only through the hard work of staff that this would be achieved. He also praised the recent work of the think tank, saying "I am so pleased IPAR exists - you bring real Rwandan analytical and research capacity to the table - and new and independent policy advice."

During the event, Tony Blair praised President Kagame and his government for their visionary programme of reform for the country, and said that the challenge facing Rwanda was to translate this into action. Speaking to government staff, he said that his role - and that of his team - was to help "build capacity for Rwanda to run itself and determine its own future, because the future of the country would be created by the Rwandan people and no-one else".

Meeting in Kigali, President Kagame and Tony Blair expressed how happy they were with the progress made so far and confirmed that their partnership would be deepened in the months to come.

Commenting on Mr Blair's visit, President Kagame said "I am grateful for the friendship and support given to Rwanda by Tony, and I am pleased he has decided to come back so soon. I am also happy with the progress his team is making here - working shoulder to shoulder with Rwandans, building their capacity and supporting new mechanisms for the government to operate more effectively and deliver for all Rwandans. There is still a lot to be done, but that is why I am delighted Tony's team is staying here for another six months, and we are committed to making this partnership work."

 


The work described here was carried out by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, it is now being continued by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

 

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