Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski

Article

Digital and Personal Transformation in Rwanda

Digital the First Time

Ten bags!  Those are what we carried back from Rwanda, a small, mountainous country in east equatorial Africa last night.  Why? The short answer is we have friends in Boise, Idaho with family and friends in Rwanda.  We took 7 bags to Rwanda, but unexpectedly returned with 10. Our refugee friends that have been resettled in the USA pine for familiar things from the region.  Now that they have jobs and money in the USA, they put in orders with their family and friends for the things they miss most.  So much for traveling light!

While in Kigali, Rwanda I had the honor of speaking to a number of government ministries and most of the large banks about digital strategies.  Not so much digital transformation though.  How do you talk about digital transformation when digital is so new to Rwanda?  That is the question Professor Michel Bezy challenged me with, when I was the guest lecturer at the Master of Computer Science program at Carnegie Mellon University Rwanda.  Professor Bezy continued, here in Rwanda we are implementing digital for the first time.  We have no legacy IT systems to hinder our progress.  Wow!  I think many IT departments in western industrialized countries right now would envy that situation.  Most of the biggest IT problems in the west now are digitally transforming legacy systems.  It's like running a race while dragging an anchor.  It is often the biggest obstacle a company faces.

Put yourself in a Rwandan's shoes.  How would you design and develop an IT environment differently if you started from a blank sheet, a white canvas like they are doing? It is a fun thought exercise.

For a small landlocked country like Rwanda, digital changes everything.  The disadvantages of moving physical products in a landlocked country disappear with digital products and services.   The recent completion of 5,000 kilometers of fiber optics cable now makes mobile and Internet services available across much of Rwanda.  Now to get electricity!  Electricity is not yet available to 74 percent of the households, but they are improving.  I am fascinated by the fact that more households have mobile phones (approximately 70%) than electricity (less than 30%).  In fact, households with Internet nearly equal households with electricity.  I watched as school children lined up at a school office to retrieve their parent's mobile phones after school.  They were all being charged in the school office because they had no electricity at home.

While traveling back and forth across beautiful Rwanda visiting schools, refugee camps and kids that we sponsor through Africa New Life,http://www.africanewlife.org/, I was keenly watching and pondering the challenges of living in a developing country where over 80% of the population are rural farmers.  I observed the work.  I spoke to farmers.  It is a MASSIVE amount of work to feed a family.  Basic tasks like getting water for your family to cook and clean often require herculean efforts in a country of a thousand hills, little running water, and that by necessity has made vertical farming an art form.

While watching the farmers it occurred to me how much work living can be.  I recognized that digital transformation can significantly impact individuals in East Africa as well as industries in the west.  The Financial Times' David White gives this example of the painful work involved in just completing normal activities, "Registering a land transfer in an outlying village in Rwanda requires a number of journeys - to the nearest subdistrict office to get forms to fill in, which then have to be notarised, to a bank to pay the notary's fees, then back to the government office, probably returning later to check the status of the process."*  All of this is likely done on foot or bike and will take all day.  This process and many others today can all be done on mobile phones, which save days worth of precious time.

Just feeding a family takes all day.  Getting water can take a half a day.  Walking to town can take half a day.  Walking to and from school can take half a day.  It is life draining work to survive in the mountains far from schools, towns and markets.  This point was burned into my consciousness over and over on this trip.

While speaking at a gathering of banks and financial services companies at the beautiful Serena Hotel in Kigali, a senior official of the Rwandan Tax Authority demonstrated to me how SMEs (small to medium size enterprises) can now register and pay their quarterly taxes all on basic mobile phones.  It was very impressive.  We don't even have that capability in the USA!  It can save hardworking entrepreneursthe need for endless travel.

Another innovation that I read about, but did not yet see at work, is the simple idea of the Hippo Roller, https://www.hipporoller.org/.  Using a simple design and elementary physics to roll water instead of carrying it (often on your head) saves so much energy and pain. See the video - https://youtu.be/YUsKjleOopk. Everyday I saw men, women and children excerting great effort carrying heavy loads of water miles to their homes.  Making this easier and faster could free up calories and time for more economically productive activities.  I hope these are as effective and useful as they appear.  Although losing the handle on a steep climb could cause some angst I fear.

I left Rwanda pondering how hard it is to live as a rural farmer.  I was impressed by the skills, ingenuity and innovation I witnessed just to feed, educate and house a family on the sides of these breath-taking mountains.  Mountains, mountains everywhere!

Rwanda is looking at all solutions.  They are pushing for farmers to seek economy of scales in agriculture.  They are organizing small subsistence farmers into cooperatives so they can share the work and costs of farm equipment to improve their overall productivity and incomes.

Rwanda is small, and with a population of 12 million, it is the mostly densely packed country in Africa.  However, with focused efforts over the past 5 years they have lifted over 1 million of their people out of poverty.  They are now one of the fastest developing nations in the world, and all of this is happening just 22 years after the devastation caused by the genocide where 1 million of their people were murdered in a 90-day period. This is an inspirational example of true transformation.

More on Rwanda's Development

World Bank http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/rwanda/overview

Forbes: The Surprising Story Behind The Worlds Fastest Developing Countries, by Robin Meyerhoff, Senior Director, Corporate Affairs, SAP, http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2016/06/27/the-surprising-story-behind-the-worlds-fastest-developing-country/#238628b372d6

*Rwanda's Vision of an ICT-Enabled Economy, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fc318106-deda-11e4-b9ec-00144feab7de.html#axzz4K8LMqocP.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict serves as the Senior Vice President, Solutions Strategy, at Regalix, a Silicon Valley based company, focused on bringing the best strategies, digital technologies, processes and people together to deliver improved customer experiences, journeys and success through the combination of intelligent solutions, analytics, automation and services. He is a popular writer, speaker and futurist, and in the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries. He has over 32 years of experience working with strategic enterprise IT solutions and business processes, and he is also a veteran executive working with both solution and services companies. He has written dozens of technology and strategy reports, over a thousand articles, interviewed hundreds of technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Never mind that we might not know what the future holds for cryptocurrencies and how much values will fluctuate or even how the process of mining a coin could cost as much as the value of the coin itself - cryptocurrency mining is a hot industry and shows no signs of slowing down. However, energy consumption to mine cryptocurrency is one of the biggest issues facing this industry. Burning huge amounts of electricity isn't incidental to cryptocurrency, it's basically embedded in the core of "mini...
Every organization is facing their own Digital Transformation as they attempt to stay ahead of the competition, or worse, just keep up. Each new opportunity, whether embracing machine learning, IoT, or a cloud migration, seems to bring new development, deployment, and management models. The results are more diverse and federated computing models than any time in our history.
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Japan DX Pavilion at @CloudEXPO Silicon Valley
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
The graph represents a network of 1,329 Twitter users whose recent tweets contained "#DevOps", or who were replied to or mentioned in those tweets, taken from a data set limited to a maximum of 18,000 tweets. The network was obtained from Twitter on Thursday, 10 January 2019 at 23:50 UTC. The tweets in the network were tweeted over the 7-hour, 6-minute period from Thursday, 10 January 2019 at 16:29 UTC to Thursday, 10 January 2019 at 23:36 UTC. Additional tweets that were mentioned in this...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Where many organizations get into trouble, however, is that they try to have a broad and deep knowledge in each of these areas. This is a huge blow to an organization's productivity. By automating or outsourcing some of these pieces, such as databases, infrastructure, and networks, your team can instead focus on development, testing, and deployment. Further, organizations that focus their attention on these areas can eventually move to a test-driven development structure that condenses several l...
The term "digital transformation" (DX) is being used by everyone for just about any company initiative that involves technology, the web, ecommerce, software, or even customer experience. While the term has certainly turned into a buzzword with a lot of hype, the transition to a more connected, digital world is real and comes with real challenges. In his opening keynote, Four Essentials To Become DX Hero Status Now, Jonathan Hoppe, Co-Founder and CTO of Total Uptime Technologies, shared that ...
Over the course of two days, in addition to insightful conversations and presentations delving into the industry's current pressing challenges, there was considerable buzz about digital transformation and how it is enabling global enterprises to accelerate business growth. Blockchain has been a term that people hear but don't quite understand. The most common myths about blockchain include the assumption that it is private, or that there is only one blockchain, and the idea that blockchain is...