Rwanda: Youth take on ICT Seriously

Rwanda’s youth are cultivating great enthusiasm in the energy and technology sector.This is depicted in their extensive involvement in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). They also possess the energy, passion and dedication to use ICT to address global challenges.
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The importance of youth getting involved in ICT is a positive contribution to the country’s development.

For instance, the Broadband Commission meeting that took place on 8-9 September, 2011, focused on the role of youth in defining new ICT services and driving take-up.

Rwanda has an exceptionally young population, with 42% of people under the age of 15.

The conference attracted Broadband commissioners and representatives of several countries in Africa, the private sector and civil society. They examined how to get the continent wired to high-speed networks and also involve the role of the youth in getting Africa online.

The discussion featured a competition Peoples choice Award,showcasing 10 new applications created by Rwandan youthdevelopers. They included; Gihamya, Turere Neza, Osca, Get it!, Cumbika, Umuhuza Hi-Tech Brokers, FINDiet, M-AHWIII, Igisekuru, Gahunda.

M-AHWIII limited, was crowned the winner after getting 30 percent of votes from the public was followed by Gahunda which attained 21percent votes. Both applications will feature at the forthcoming ITU Telecom World 2011 Digital Innovators competition in October.

Lillian Uwintwali, student at Kigali Institute of Science andTechnology is the Director of M-AHWIII limited was overjoyed after announcing them as the winner of the category.

“The win is worth it because many will benefit from the application. M-AHWIII is an SMS-based application thatwill allow patients to request for medical appointments at any hospital of their choice subscribed on our system relieving them the trouble of having to go directly to the hospital in person,” Uwintwali discloses.

She adds that with her four colleagues they would develop their idea further.

“We will have to first set its visibility in two hospitals as we aim at making the M-AHWII application effective and user friendly,” she emphasizes.

M-AHWII, the M stands for Mobile while the AHWII literally represent is an expression of relaxing.

“I have already talked to the Ministry of Health and they liked the idea, hopefully the patients will be booking appointments for medical attention using SMS. One will only have to send a message indicating their illness and the hospital they would like to go to,” Uwintwali explains.

She said: “This is going to be a useful tool in making Rwanda a healthy country a reality. We all know for a fact that withoutgood health there is no development.

I request everyone to make M-AHWII application a reality so as to maintain the good health of Rwandans while achieving the broadband of digital development.”

The applications they create are income generating thus boost the standards of living with its related advantages.

Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union (ITU), during the recent conference held in Kigali in relations to Broadband, hesaid that broadband is the single most powerful tool available to accelerate progress towards achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and a drive to social and economic development.

“In the 21st century, with broadband, no young African should ever again need to be sent abroad in order to enjoy the benefits of an excellent education,” says Touré.

He said: “If you are connected, it no longer matters if you are geographically or socially isolated; you are still connected to the information society. But if you are not connected, you are literally cut off from a whole portion of the world’s riches.”

In a phone interview with Serge Guillaume Nzabonimana, anAdvisor in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, he said that the Ministry funds youth projects in relations to Information and Communication and Technology.

“We analyze the request for the project before for we fund it. There are a few factors that are considered for instance sustainability, the impact it will have on the people and the number of members involved in the project,” Nzabonimanaexplains.

ICT being one of the pillars of development, the youth need to be supported in the field thus a bright future.

For instance the Ministry funded Kimisagara youth employment and productive center to by enhancing the IT skills for youth.

The center identified 300 youth to be trained in IT this year and groups of 30 each concluded successfully the training of 4 weeks each.

The IT training aims at promoting ICT and creating confidence among youth in computer skills as well as to use ICT as a tool for youth-to-youth communication, sensitize them in lessons related to health/nutrition, reading, writing, and other benefits.

Source: The New Times