Rwanda Secures $200 Million for Digital Acceleration
Rwanda's Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has secured a loan from the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB) worth more than $100 million USD to support the Rwanda Digital Acceleration Project. The loan has also been co-funded by the World Bank for an equivalent amount, bringing the total investment to approximately $200 million.
The project is comprised of four main components: Digital Access and Inclusion; Digital Public Service Delivery; Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and Project Management.
The Digital Acceleration Project aims to support Rwanda's pandemic recovery and ensure its future resilience by improving access to the internet, developing a selection of digital public services, and bolstering the digital innovation ecosystem across the country. This includes supporting 250,000 households with financial aid to purchase smart devices, as well as providing training to 3 million individuals in basic digital literacy, with a particular focus on girls and women to close the digital skills gap.
Another key aim of the project is to improve the government's digital service capabilities by utilising the power of big data, and using investments to develop both new and existing shared digital infrastructure, standards, and platforms. These improvements will enable a more fully transactional and remote delivery service to be built and scaled, including creating and issuing digital ID credentials to 75% of the country's population.
“For Rwanda to leverage digital transformation as a driver of growth, job creation and greater service delivery, digital adoption needs to markedly improve. This project will help Rwanda tackle the affordability of digital devices and services, but also bridge lingering basic digital literacy gaps, to increase local demand for digitally-enabled services and platforms,” said Isabella Hayward, World Bank Digital Development Specialist, and Task Team Leader of the project.
“The project will also support the GoR’s aspirations of providing 24-hour, cashless, paperless and fully transactional Government-to-Government, Government-to-Business, and Government-to-Person e-services both at the central government and sectoral levels.”
In addition, it will also increase Rwanda's capacity to support digitally enabled innovation by developing Rwanda's digital talent, assisting tech firms with growth, and boost the local entrepreneurship ecosystem. There are at least 300 digital start-ups already confirmed to be receiving direct support from the project, with a focus on those that are female-owned.
Rolande Pryce, World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda recently spoke about the project, stating: “Expanding digital access and adoption, enhancing digital public service delivery and promoting digitally-enabled innovation are essential for Rwanda’s digital transformation which can in turn help drive a robust post-COVID-19 recovery. The Rwanda Digital Acceleration Project encompasses all these elements and will contribute to Rwanda’s vision to become a knowledge-based economy and upper-middle-income country by 2035, by leveraging digital technologies to accelerate growth and poverty reduction.”