The newly elected Secretary General of International Telecommunication Unions (ITU), Zhao Houlin, says Rwanda is hotspot for ICT businesses.
Houlin, who is in Rwanda for a three-day visit, inspected K-lab- an open space for IT entrepreneurs in Rwanda’s capital Kigali. Rwanda’s ICT infrastructure creates an environment for lucrative business in the sector.
“ICT solutions require infrastructure background and you are on good track,” he said. “You now need to start small and medium enterprises in ICT domain to make use the available opportunities,” he added.
Houlin’s visit to Rwanda is his first visit to Africa since he was elected ITU head in October last year.
Houlin said ICT entrepreneurship requires public private partnership, where government concentrates on policy formulation, and then the private sector on investments.
He pledged to support Rwanda through new initiatives aimed at creating a global platform for SMEs, where ideas and opportunities will be shared.
According to Houlin, Rwanda will benefit a lot in the initiative, because young ICT entrepreneurs have started to develop strong ideas.
One of such ideas was made by M-Ahwiii, a company that developed an application that will help farmers to access finance and market information, while creating awareness on agriculture extension.
“Upon the launch of the program next year, farmers’ partners will start paying us license fees. Farmers themselves will pay a little money to use the program,” says Lillian Uwintwari, M-Ahwiii’s CEO.
ICT Minister Philbert Nsengimana said Rwanda has all tools set to compete with the world in ICT entrepreneurship.
With the recently installed a USD130 million high-speed internet (4G) connectivity, ICT makes 8.5% of Rwanda’s economy with telecommunications alone contributing 3.5%, through enabling other sectors such banking, tourism and hospitality.
Meanwhile, Rwanda is a member state of the Council of the International Telecommunication Union, and President Paul Kagame is current chair of ITU broadband commission.
The country has hosted two important ICT meetings; including Connect Africa Summit in 2007 and 2013, resulting into over USD 70billion investment in broadband in Africa.
Last year, Transform Africa was hosted in Kigali, where Smart Africa Alliance was launched to support ICT initiatives on the continent. As a result, ITU has chosen Rwanda to be the African center of Excellence of cyber security.