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Rwanda launches center for fourth industrial revolution

President Paul Kagame presided over the official launch of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in Kigali, following a partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation and the World Economic Forum.

The development is part of the efforts to position Rwanda as a proof-of-concept hub and an enabler of the innovation and startup ecosystem, according to the Ministry.

Minister for ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire told The New Times in an exclusive interview that C4IR Rwanda’s approach is centered around multi-stakeholder collaboration, enabling it to gather input from a variety of stakeholders (private, public, civil society etc.), thereby helping to maximizing the effectiveness of its work.

“The center prides itself as not a think-tank, but rather a “do-tank”, with a keen focus to foster collaboration between government and companies to pilot governance frameworks for rapid iteration and scale,” she said.

Minister Ingabire also noted that the center is part of a global network, which allows it to easily leverage the knowledge that its counterparts have already created, “while simultaneously giving Rwanda a platform to share its journey and continuously provide thought leadership on tech-enabled economic transformation.”

AI to take lion’s share

For C4IR Rwanda, Ingabire said, we chose AI and data to stay in line with the country’s strategic priorities for technology, and use it to spur data-driven development. 

“But also because AI and data (especially) are necessary to establish a solid foundation for other 4IR technologies.”

She explained that while AI presents a lot of issues around privacy, inclusion, equity which Rwanda needs to get ahead of, it is also widely considered to be the next big engine of productivity and economic growth across the world, with some studies projecting additional economic output of over $10 Trillion by 2030.

“The center’s work will be focused on establishing relevant mechanisms and policies that both leverage the transformative change that these technologies can bring but also how to responsibly use them in a way that does not introduce new threats,” she asserted.

For instance, Paula pointed out that the center will allow for Rwanda to pioneer a lot of these policies at home, as it did with the draft Drone policy that enabled Zipline to pilot in Rwanda.

“This is a systematic approach to truly making Rwanda a proof-of-concept hub and an enabler of the innovation and startup ecosystem.”

2 MoU’s expected to be signed

On the sidelines of the event, the C4IR is expected to sign an MoU with the Novartis Foundation and Norrsken East Africa to support the Norvatis HealthTech Hub.

Up until today, C4IR has already been working with one of the startups hosted in the HealthTech Hub, Insightiv, to validate their AI-enabled radiology solution with RBC and to co-design a data sharing framework for validation purposes in the process. 

“This partnership enables the C4IR to provide similar support to the 30 HealthTech Hub startups and more in the future. The support will mainly be around providing policy advisory and piloting data governance frameworks to unlock secure, trusted access to data.”

Also to be signed is the MoU between UNDP Resilience Hub, an initiative under UNDP’s Regional Africa Bureau and C4IR Rwanda as its first institutional partner, with the commitment to jointly shape Africa’s 4IR agenda and pilot the products borne from the AL4IR initiative.


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