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REMARKS BY H.E. PAUL KAGAME PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF RWANDA AT THE WORLD SUMMIT ON THE INFORMATION SOCIETY (WSIS)

 

 

Geneva, 10 December 2003


 

President of the WSIS,

Distinguished Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Today we all recognise

that ICT is not a matter of choice;

it is a necessity.

 

It has become abundantly clear

to us in Africa

that ICT is an indispensable tool

in the achievement

of our development outcomes,

as well as the Millennium Development

Goals (MDGs).

 

We have to leapfrog

if we are to be part

of the global information family,

and in the understanding

that human society advances according to the level

of its accumulated knowledge base.


 

We do not have the luxury

of waiting until

the necessary conditions

are in place.

 

For ICT is an enabler,

and we are determined

to take advantage

of the many benefits

that accrue from its applications,

and the new opportunities

it creates for nations and communities.

 

The issue for us

is not whether it is worthwhile

for us to make use of ICT,

but rather whether ICT

can be used appropriately to meet

the needs of our people

and achieve our development objectives.

 

Our choice should not be

between antiretroviral drugs


and ICT for development;

or between penicillin and Pentium.

 

The challenge for us,

in the developing world,

is how best to apply ICT

to provide more leverage

in our fight against poverty,

disease, illiteracy,

lack of information

and skilled workforce.

 

We in Rwanda

have had a fair share

of these problems,

some of them inherited

from the 1994 genocide.

 

But we believe

that we have in place

an ambitious ICT programme

that will effectively deal

with these problems.


 

ICT has been integrated

into our development strategy,

as a catalyst for economic growth

and social transformation.

 

We now use ICT

as an instrument to enhance

unity and reconciliation,

to strengthen the participatory

justice system we call Gacaca,

and as an instrument

of empowering women.

 

We use it also

as a basis for the consolidation

of our decentralisation programme

and democratic governance.

 

Rwanda is a founding member

of the Development

Gateway project,

intended to use ICT

for development.


We plan to provide

broadband connectivity

to all secondary schools

within three years,

using optic fibre

and wireless technology.

 

These will also serve

as tele-centres for the benefit

of the rural communities

in the catchment areas,

with the ultimate aim

of providing universal access.

 

Given that we are

a landlocked country,

modern information

and communications technology

holds great potential for us.

 

We therefore plan to transform

Rwanda into a technological hub

within the Great Lakes Region,


providing low cost

and accessible means

to communicate

within the region and beyond.

 

Of course, elaborating

policies and plans is one thing;

mobilising resources

to implement them is another.

 

That is why

we would like to appeal

to our development partners

to join us in ensuring that

we realise these objectives.

 

At this juncture

I would like to express

our gratitude to

a number of international initiatives

which have contributed

to the growth and development

of ICT for global development,

most notably,


the Economic Community

for Africa (ECA), in Rwanda's case.

 

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I would like to conclude my remarks

by reiterating our conviction

that ICT is a development tool

that will narrow the gap

between rich and poor;

and that ICT in Africa

and the rest of the developing world

will be a major contributor

to the improvement of human welfare.

 

In Rwanda we are convinced

that ICT will enable us

to transform our current challenges

and adversity into opportunities

for this and future generations.

 

I thank you all.

 

 

 

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Updated : 2003-12-10