Agriculture has been identified by governments across Africa as a sector of rising importance. In Rwanda, 80% of the country’s workforce is involved with the sector. For that reason – and to forge partnerships and foster innovation between ICT and agriculture, the ICT4Ag Conference has been organised and is underway in the Rwandan Capital of Kigali.
“There has been a lack in investment in Africa for too long, and this conference is here to facilitate investment in ICT, agriculture and infrastructure,” said Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).“The conference has attracted a large number of delegates from across the world, and I hope that they will have a great experience meeting with investors and farmers,” he added.
Three hundred people registered to attend the Plug & Play Day before the main conference officially starts tomorrow. The Plug & Play day has been set up for app developers to meet with farmers in Rwanda in order to promote their offerings, and to further develop their apps to benefit the farmers’ needs.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and ICT Rosemary Mbabazi thanked the organisers, and added that Rwanda is well-suited for investment. “Rwanda is the land of a thousand opportunities, and our vision for ICT is to merge it with agriculture. ICT is a key driver for community involvement,” she said.
Mbabazi added that now is the time to come up with workable solutions to the current problems being faced by farmers. “We are now coming up with solutions for ICT that focuses on agriculture – 80% of the country is involved in agriculture. The solutions are also improving the lives of rural people.”
She explained that Rwanda is focussing on five key areas in which ICT development is a priority: Agriculture, Education, Government, Health and Business. “We don’t leave out any other sectors in terms of development, but these five are the most important to drive the country forward,” she explained.
In terms of mobile services, she added that LTE/4G mobile data will be coming to Rwanda. “LTE will be coming to Rwanda in the next three years. There are currently companies competing for LTE services, but not in infrastructure.”
Mbabazi explained that the ICT4Ag conference will have a meaningful impact in the country. “What does this mean for rural people? The solutions from this week will impact the lives of the rural people. It’s a partnership arrangement between Venture Capitalists, investors and the ICT sector. We all want to witness the change in agriculture,” she concluded.
Permanent Secretary Ernest Ruzindaza at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources urged attendees to come up with viable solutions to benefit everyone.
“We have to move from theory to practical solutions to drive ICT in agriculture. The right people to make that happen and come up with solutions are here. We also want to share with you as a country what we have,” he said.
* IT News Africa is at the ICT4Ag conference in Kigali, Rwanda
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor