Rwanda in bid to be Africa’s hi-tech hub



Twenty years after the genocide, Rwanda wants to become Africa’s hi-tech hub. Hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren already have their own computers and nearly the entire population is due to have Internet access within three years. But the government’s poor human rights record is casting a cloud over its ambitions.

Vanina Umutako, a student at Gashora Girls’ Academy in Rwanda, is proud of the app she and fellow students have designed.

“It will provide an interactive platform to facilitate connections between students from different schools and on different matters. They can quickly and easily discuss topics taught in class,” the 18-year-old explains.

The 270 students at the science and technology model academy east of Kigali “will graduate as inspired young leaders filled with confidence, a love of learning, a sense of economic empowerment”, the school promises on its website.

That is an image very different from that of the central-eastern African country 20 years ago, when a genocide organised by Hutu radicals killed about 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in one of the biggest cases of systematic mass murder in modern history.

Rwanda became synonymous with genocide, mindless violence, ethnic hatred and masses of refugees.

Now the country is seeking to put that behind it, with hopes of becoming a key economic hub.

“Rwanda is the Silicon Valley of Africa,” says Aphrodice Mutangana, a young mobile technology entrepreneur who launched an app allowing people to donate money to elderly genocide survivors living in poverty.

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Matthew Olckers

Editor at Talan
Matthew's interests in innovation are in the financial services and education sectors. He joined the Talan Innovation team in September 2014, and focusses on the improvement of the user experience. Matthew is a Masters in Economics student at Paris 1: Panthéon-Sorbonne.

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