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#1 from 2013: Paul Kagame: Digital President Leading a Technology Movement

Uwimana Basaninyenzi's picture

Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2013
This post was originally published on November 27, 2013

Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, has been dubbed the “digital president” by international organizations, journalists, and politicians alike. A recent article in Wired Magazine provides a compelling review of numerous technology initiatives that President Kagame has spearheaded in the last decade, making it clear why he’s been given this title. The Rwandan government has been making a concerted effort to create a culture of innovation by investing in technology, infrastructure, and the skills of the Rwandan people, as demonstrated by various projects such as the One Laptop per Child Program and the launch of Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda (CMU-R), which offers a Master of Science degree in Information Technology along with a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering. In the last year alone, the government of Rwanda struck a 4G Internet deal with a South Korean telecoms firm that will lead to high-speed broadband for 95% of Rwandan citizens within three years. This is all part of an effort to transform Rwanda into a knowledge-based economy.

The Highs and Lows of the Global ICT Landscape

Uwimana Basaninyenzi's picture

For the last twelve years, the World Economic Forum and INSEAD have been publishing The Global Information Technology Report (GITR), which features a Network Readiness Index (NRI) that measures the ability of countries to leverage information communication technologies (ICTs) for growth and well-being. This year’s GITR, which focuses on jobs and growth, covers 144 countries. The assessments are based on a broad range of indicators that include Internet access, adult literacy, and mobile phone subscriptions. As noted in the report, the growing availability of technology has empowered citizens of both developed and developing countries with good access to the digital world. However, this year’s GITR has some sobering news about the state of ICTs in many parts of the developing world. Despite some positive trends, the report shows a sharp digital divide between impoverished nations and richer economies.

From Kigali to Kabul: The Role of Art in Post-Conflict Reconciliation

Uwimana Basaninyenzi's picture

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the experience of Rwanda, a post-conflict society that is using art as part of its national reconciliation effort. I argued that Rwanda’s active support of cultural industries, including film, music, crafts, architecture and theater, among other art forms, has played a key role in its peace building efforts  in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide that killed nearly one million people. Using anecdotal evidence, I specifically examined the use of theater, which helped national audiences express difficult emotions, re-examine established ideas, and improve their emotional well-being. In this blog post, I will examine how the creative sector has helped facilitate national reconstruction efforts in another conflict zone: Afghanistan.

To begin with, it is important to note that every country’s experience in using art in their reconciliation process is different – anywhere from how their history of conflict influences their engagement to the state of cultural policies in countries. In Rwanda’s case, the government began working alongside international partners shortly after their civil war to establish a platform for the growth of creative industries. Through relatively peaceful periods, they were also able to create an enabling environment that sustained this growth. However, in the case of Afghanistan, the cycles of conflict have made the growth of the cultural policies all the more challenging. Despite difficulties, there are several interesting examples in Afghanistan of how a network of actors, including government, civil society, and international partners, has used art in its attempt to facilitate healing and rebuild national identity.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

All Africa
Rwanda: Civil Society Organizations Which Promote Good Governance Rewarded

"The Rwanda Governance Board (GBV) on Monday has rewarded local civil society organizations which promote good governance.

The first phase, which concerned projects dating from July 2011 until today saw 14 projects rewarded, the top three being respectively Transparency International Rwanda (TI-Rw), COPORWA (Rwanda Potters cooperative) and Isango Star Radio.

The three best performers were selected based on indicators of promoting good governance, the ability of the project to attract partners and the direct impact of projects on citizens' lives, while others were evaluated over one indicator of good governance." READ MORE

Foreign Policy
Postcards from Hell, 2012

"What does living in a failed state look like? A tour through the world’s 60 most fragile countries.

The "failed state" label may conjure up undifferentiated images of poverty and squalor, but a range of troubles plague the 60 countries atop this year’s Failed States Index -- an annual collaboration between Foreign Policy and the Fund For Peace that assesses 177 countries. (Scores are assigned out of a possible 120 points, with higher numbers indicating poorer performance.) Yes, inadequate health care, paltry infrastructure, and basic hunger are the most fundamental culprits, but sometimes it is a ruthless dictator, ethnic tension, or political corruption that is most to blame. In photos and words, here is a glimpse of what life is like in each of the world's most failed states -- and just how it came to be that way." READ MORE

Rwanda's Artful Path Toward Peace: Cultural Industries and Post-Conflict Reconciliation

Uwimana Basaninyenzi's picture

In my last blog, I wrote about a medium that plays a critical role in post-conflict reconciliation: art.  I argued that the cultural industries—film, music, crafts, architecture, and theater, among other art forms—provide important benefits to post-conflict societies; therefore, policies that encourage the development and growth of these industries should be a critical part of a country’s comprehensive post-conflict reconstruction plan. In a further reflection on these points, this blog examines the story of Rwanda, a post-conflict society that is using film, theater, music, and other creative industries in its journey toward reconciliation and rebuilding.

Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Revenue Watch
2011 Corruption Index Links Graft and Public Protests

"In its new 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International makes a direct link between global corruption and increasing public protests demanding transparent and accountable governance, from European demonstrations over the debt crisis to the Arab Spring.

Compiled annually, the Index ranks perceived public sector corruption in 183 nations, based on indicators such as information access, bribery, kickbacks, embezzlement and government anti-corruption efforts.

'Public outcry at corruption, impunity and economic instability sent shockwaves around the world in 2011. Protests in many countries quickly spread to unite people from all parts of society,' wrote Transparency International. 'Their backgrounds may be diverse, but their message is the same: more transparency and accountability is needed from our leaders.'" READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Voices from Eurasia
Social media for anticorruption? Exploring experiences in the former Soviet block

"Spurred by events in the Arab world and high profile examples like the Indian Ipaidabribe.com, the role of social media to fight corruption and, more broadly, improve governance has been in the spotlight recently (see e.g. the Accountability 2.0 blog). Perhaps the most comprehensive reports we have come across in this area are from the Transparency and Accountability Initiative. Their global mapping report on technology for transparency and the latest piece on the state of the art in transparency, accountability and citizen participation are particularly informative. Ditto for the online tracking tool on technologies for civic engagement.

A recent post from Aleem Walji on the World Bank’s CommGap site, “From egov to wegov” provides a good summary of the key issues at stake:

As Tim O’Reilly famously said, the days of ‘vending machine government’ where citizens pay their taxes and governments solve their problems are gone."
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