Rwandan technology has been boosted by the announcement that all new websites registering to use the local ‘‘.rw’’ domain will now be able to do so locally. Previously the domain name had been hosted and managed in Belgium, however Rwanda’s Information Communication Technology Association (RICTA) has now negotiated with the country’s regulatory bodies to host and manage the web domain in Rwanda.
The process of repatriation will be rolled out within three months, according to Col. Diogene Mudenge of the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (RURA). The project forms part of efforts by Rwanda’s government to boost the country’s ICT sector, as part of a project called ‘Vision 2020’. At about 1.6% of the total, the country’s ICT budget is way above the African average and in line with those of the rich countries of the OECD. The country has taken advantage of scholarship opportunities to send students overseas to top institutions to train as their next generation of ICT leaders. Millions have also been invested in creating a world-class national data storage infrastructure, such as the Rwandan National Data Centre, and on projects such as the Kigali Metropolitan Network Fiber Optic Cable, linking the country to the world via the internet. Such plans will increase the connectedness of Rwandan institutions such as universities, health centres, schools and government; as well as helping to facilitate projects such as making Kigali City wireless by the later half of this year.
Rwanda has ambitions to become East Africa’s ICT hub. It faces stiff competition from Kenya, vaunted by some as a potential African ‘Silicon Valley’; and now Uganda, one of the continent’s top three landlocked countries in terms of ICT market penetration. However, development in all three countries is positive for the East Africa region. A little competition is in this case, a good thing.