The World Economic Forum Is Coming To Town To Showcase Kagame’s Fantasy High-Tech Hub

By David Himbara

Rwanda is a country of ironies. Begin with this photo of President Paul Kagame on a recent visit to Ngoma District, Eastern Province, on 28 April 2016. Kagame is surrounded by a well armed battalion of Rwandan military. So why the military overkill? Did Rwandans not show their love for Kagame by 98 percent approval enabling him to rule them indefinitely?So what is he afraid of?

Anyway my article today is about the upcoming showcasing of Kagame so-called high tech hub. The World Economic Forum (WEF) which is holding its Africa forum in Kigali shortly, describes Rwanda as follows:

“ Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills, has dramatically transformed since the 1994 genocide. The country is emerging as a regional high-tech hub and boasts one of sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest GDP growth rates. It is one of the continent’s most competitive economies and a top reformer in improving the business environment. This remarkable progress showcases the country’s rapid evolution as a knowledge economy, powered by smart policies and investments.”

Is Rwanda emerging as a regional high-tech hub? Is it rapidly evolving as a knowledge economy?

Check this out — here are the latest statistics from Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) on Rwanda’s telecommunication sector, a sector that is supposedly driving Rwanda’s “high tech hub” and knowledge economy.

First, look at the size of Rwanda’s telecom sector by employment according to RURA table 19 below on “number of staffs employed in the telecommunications as of December 2015.” Rwanda’s telecom sector has a total of 957, of whom 785 are permanent, and 150 are temporary.

RURA’s Table showing size of Rwanda’s telecommunication sector by employment


RURA also provides cumulative investment by the telecommunication sector. Here is the story of investment as of December 2015. As shown by RURA’s table 18 below, cumulative investment by Rwanda’s telecom sector in 2015 was Rwanda franc (RWF) 43,799,000,000.00.

RURA’s telecoms investments in 2015


If we convert RWF 43,799,000,000.00 into dollars we get USD 56.3 million. That is right — total investment in 2015 by Rwanda’s telecom sector was a mere US 56.3 million.

For internet subscribers, here is a RURA table to explain:

RURA’s figures on internet subscribers


In Rwanda, there were in December 2015 some 21,125 fixed internet users and 3.7 million mobile users.

So, what do we see here? Rwanda as an emerging high tech hub is a sick joke. I am reminded of the saying that “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

When will Kagame and his publicists stop lying about the so-called high tech regional hub? Mr Kagame, please watch the real regional high tech hub in East Africa — Kenya’s Silicon Savannah. Perhaps you might learn a thing or two.