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Rwanda pushes AI to become African Intelligence with its C4IR Centre

On March 31, in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, C4IR, was inaugurated. Its role is to promote emerging technologies but it focuses mainly on artificial intelligence and data policy. Its goal is to develop partnerships to stimulate innovation and large-scale adoption for the benefit of society.

The launch was taken in the presence of President Paul Kagame, the Rwandan Ministry of Information Technology Paula Ingabire, Communication and Innovation, the facility’s director, Crystal Rugege, and the President of World Economic Forum, Børge Brende.

The innovation plan of Rwanda has been recently explained by Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation. The Smart Rwanda 2020 Master Plan was started to implement digital literacy for all and support research and development of digital transformation, focussing on the Internet of Things, Big Data and Analytics, Cybersecurity Research, Creative Industries, Mobility, and Digital Lifestyle.


Picture of Paula Ingabire: Rwandan flag under an ITU Pictures from Geneva, Switzerland – Policy Statements – ITU PP-18, CC BY 2.0


The facility’s managing director, Crystal Rugege, said it would be a “catalyst for Africa to lead the world in shaping a more inclusive Fourth Industrial Revolution”.


Rwanda has a population of 13 million people on a surface about 26,000 square km wide. In a Jan 2022 analysis, in 2021 the country improved its internet penetration to 31.4%, according to data from DataReportal.


Does AI stand for African Intelligence?

According to Actua IA, Rwanda has been investing in AI research and development for several years. Already in 2019, the Consortium of African Computer Professionals (CPAI), Vileo Ventures, and Solve IT Africa launched SHAKA AI, the first artificial intelligence skills outsourcing company in Africa.

Joseph Semafara, CEO of Solve IT and Vice President of Operations of SHAKA AI, said that these skills are “dedicated to building an African AI environment where new careers are created day by day in Rwanda.“

There is no surprise that such technological institutions are run by women: Rwanda ranked 7th in the Global Gender Gap Report published by WEF in 2021. Iceland, Finland, and Norway lead the pack where another African country ranks very high: Namibia takes the sixth position.


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