The Ministry of ICT and Innovation in Rwanda, Cenfri, and the Mastercard Foundation signed a tripartite MoU to kick-off an ambitious three-year digital transformation program in Rwanda aiming at harnessing Rwanda’s big data to enhance the Government’s digital capabilities and systems.
Building an inclusive digital economy has long been a core economic development objective of the Government of Rwanda. The Government charts an ambitious course for achieving rapid digital transformation and has embraced the digital economy as a lever for accelerating growth, improving services delivery, and enabling more work opportunities for Rwandans, especially young Rwandans.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked the need for digitization and this partnership demonstrates Rwanda’s goal to not only keep up with the global trends, but also to become an example of digital leapfrogging in Africa.
“Data-driven policymaking is fundamental to our digital transformation journey”, said Paula Ingabire, the Minister of ICT and Innovation, and the Government Lead for the program, at the launch today. “During the Covid19 pandemic, we’ve seen digital payments grow more than tenfold and it’s these gains that we want to build on and unlock further growth and adoption of digital payments. To do so, we require data insights that will drive cashless policy decisions, unlock barriers to adoption of digital payment channels as well as track the response and impact of these interventions in driving the cashless agenda.”
“Unlocking significant, long-lasting efficiencies in financial inclusion and productivity for young men and women will help to increase their access to employment opportunities and entrepreneurship. It is important that we support the sustainability of that transition as well as other innovative interventions in the digital space,” said Rica Rwigamba, Country Head at the Mastercard Foundation.
The program, which will be implemented by Cenfri in partnership with Cape Town-based data science firm 71point4, is composed of a team of people who have worked with Rwandan agencies for the past few years to open up data for the Government to draw insights for policy. “We are excited to be embarking on this journey to leverage data to build towards a flourishing and inclusive digital economy. Over the last five years, our work in Rwanda as part of the insight2impact (i2i) program, highlighted the power of data to advance financial-sector development and improve economic and financial inclusion. This partnership presents an opportunity to build on our learnings and achieve real impact together over the coming years,” said Doubell Chamberlain, Managing Director and Founder of Cenfri.
The program ultimately aims to support the Government to realize its vision through a three-pronged approach: making data and trend analysis easily accessible; supporting the application of data to policy actions; and accompanying public sector staff to utilize data-driven approaches. An exciting byproduct of the program will be to make data available to local entrepreneurs and start-ups to develop ideas and strategies for new businesses. Modern innovation feeds on data and while these data resources exist, very little has been accessible in the public domain for Rwandan entrepreneurs to work on. This program will hopefully change that.
The program will initially focus on the Agriculture and Retail trade sectors, with other sectors to follow. It will work closely with the National Bank of Rwanda, the Rwandan Utilities Regulatory Authority, and other regulatory agencies with important data resources. The program will also engage with private sector entities to explore access to data that can assist in achieving a cashless national economy.