ICT project that seeks to impart digital skills to 1 million Rwandans next year, faces huge budget deficit

The Minister for ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, speaks to journalists after the parliamentary session on her ministry’s 2019/2020 budget at the Parliamentary Buildings in Kimihurura on May 10, 2019. Craish Bahizi.

The Ministry of ICT and Innovation (MINICT) will need Rwf1.5 billion in the 2019/2020 financial year to implement its Digital Ambassador Programme (DAP), which aims at narrowing the digital divide and increasing citizens’ digital literacy.

This was disclosed Friday by ICT and Innovation minister, Paula Ingabire, while appearing before the parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony to discuss the appropriation of her ministry in the next fiscal year.

She said the target was to train one million Rwandans in information communication technology in the next financial year. Half of them will be women.

However, the minister said only Rwf200 million had been earmarked for the activity.

The shortage will affect the use of e-Government and e-Business services and we will not be able to achieve the first phase of National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) target of ensuring digital literacy for all youth (16 to 30 years) and at least 60 per cent among adults, the minister said.

“Under Digital Ambassadors Programme, the target was to train 1 million people per year, but with the allocated budget, we will be able to train only 30,000 people,” the minister said.

Digital Ambassadors Programme was initiated in 2017/2018 and is expected to come to an end in 2024, with total investment of Rwf5 billion on the part of the Government.

Ingabire said that the project targets to build digital skills of 5 million citizens over the next five years by 2024. Currently, digital literacy stands at 12 per cent

She observed that since Rwanda wanted to become a digital economy, it was important that its citizens are digitally literate and able to transact and take advantage of ICT.

“We look at the projects that we are implementing, all the services we are putting online, all the platforms that we are creating, whether from the Government or the private sector; creating awareness around them, but also building the capability for citizens to use those digital platforms and consume digital goods and services,” Ingabire told Saturday Times after the parliamentary hearing.

In line with implementation of the initiative, the ministry sends university students to communities where they impart the basic digital literacy skills to citizens, whether it’s using a phone, or a computer, navigating the internet, getting information, sharing and exchanging it.

“But, beyond that, we also want to engage the private sector. Whether it’s banks, insurance companies, anyone, they have services that they are digitising. So, it’s a wider campaign where we are trying to get everyone to work with us in building digital literacy skills for citizens,” Ingabire said.

MP Théogène Munyangeyo said that there should be an effective approach that can help train many people quickly.

“As a country that wants to move fast in ICT, we need proper planning that can enable us to train many people, especially people in cooperatives,” he said.

In the current fiscal year, 15,054 were trained in digital literacy through the Digital Ambassadors Programme.

Source: The New Times

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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