Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui

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
A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to great conferences, helping you discover new conferences and increase your return on investment.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER gives detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPOalso offers sp...
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IoT Global Network has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The IoT Global Network is a platform where you can connect with industry experts and network across the IoT community to build the successful IoT business of the future.
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.