Published on Digital Development

Co-creating a SMART Rwanda, SMART Africa and SMART World

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By Hon. Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth and ICT for Rwanda
Image Rwanda is steadily moving towards its vision of becoming an information-rich and knowledge-based economy and society, and an ICT hub in the region. This ambition is reflected in our Vision 2020, the subsequent mid-term economic development and poverty reduction strategy (EDPRS II), and the ICT Sector Strategic Plan 2013-2018.

The World Bank has always supported us in achieving our ICT ambitions. In 2011, we successfully wrapped up the eRwanda project, for which we had received a US$10 million grant from IDA. The project helped improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our government’s internal processes, and the delivery of applications and services. Through this project, the World Bank is helping us reduce the cost of international capacity by extending the geographic reach of Rwanda’s broadband networks, giving Rwanda capacity and access to broadband connectivity in the process.

Today, the World Bank is considering providing more support to Rwanda through the SMART Rwanda initiative, which will be the implementation vehicle for initiatives under our ICT Sector Strategic Plan. We are grateful that experts from the Bank’s ICT Unit took up the initiative to assist our local experts in developing the SMART Rwanda Concept.


SMART Rwanda aims to help Rwanda achieve its ICT vision, one village at a time. We have defined ten verticals (sectors) in which we believe structured deployment of ICTs can have maximum impact. These verticals are SMART Education, SMART Healthcare, SMART Governance, SMART Business, SMART Agriculture, SMART Environment, SMART Job Creation, SMART Infrastructure, SMART Girls, and SMART Cities.

The idea is to leverage “lean start-up” approaches to solution design while targeting practical “big goals” that have not been achieved by more conventional programs. The desired outcome is a list of innovative and immediately applicable ideas to solve the problems in each sector. These ideas should be able to be implemented quickly, tested for viability, and then scaled up if they are successful.

Given Rwanda’s leadership in the area of ICTs, we hope to share the lessons learnt from implementation of the SMART Rwanda Program with our African brothers in particular, and the ICT world in general.

The crux of SMART Rwanda is to do thing smartly, that is to do more with less more transparently. Unlike previous initiatives which were government-driven, the SMART Rwanda programs will be mostly private sector-driven to avoid the risk of them turning out to be white elephants.

I invite you all to join this crowd-sourcing exercise. Please feel free to share experiences and ideas about how we can achieve our ambitions to make Rwanda SMART via Twitter using the Hashtag #SMARTRwanda or Tweet to the handle @MyictRwanda.


Hon. Jean Philbert Nsengimana

Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT

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