1 August 2006

Poverty-stricken Rwanda puts its faith and future into the wide wired world [The Guardian]

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Computer classroom in Ruanda
Rwanda’s Vision 2020 project aims to rapidly transform a depressed agricultural economy into one driven by information communications and technology (ICT). If it works, the percentage of Rwanda’s workforce involved in farming will drop from 90% to 50% in 15 years. By then the country should be the regional ICT hub – a kind of Singapore of the Great Lakes.

When the ICT plan was launched in 2000 only one school in the country had a computer, there was a single internet cafe and a handful of science graduates, and fewer than 100,000 of 8 million people had mobile or fixed-line phones.

Today half of the 2,300 primary schools have at least one computer. There are 30 internet cafes in the leading cities and there will be 30 more in even the most remote rural areas by 2007. Telecoms companies hawk broadband internet for home use. More than 300,000 people have mobiles. If a plan to assemble phones locally, and sell them for the equivalent of £19 with six months to pay, comes to fruition the growth will be even faster.

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