Rwanda launches centre dedicated to artificial intelligence

Necessity is the mother of invention, and Rwanda’s government seems to understand this more than most with the launch of the Centre of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR).

“With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the rapid innovations witnessed during the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an increased urgency to develop digital and technological capacities to build more resilient systems for a healthier society and more sustainable economy,” said Rwandan Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation Paula Ingabire.

Ingabire made the comment in a media statement posted on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) website.

Rwanda has launched its C4IR, saying it will “work with stakeholders around the world to design and pilot new approaches to technology governance that foster innovation in an inclusive and responsible manner”.

Some of the projects that the C4IR is already working on are the country’s artificial intelligence (AI) policy and laws on the protection of personal data and privacy.

At the launch of the centre last week, President Paul Kagame said the facility was the country’s pride. He added that it was evidence of how far it had advanced in the fields of science and technology.

He said:

The launch of this centre is enabled by investments that we, as a country, have been making in science and technology. I hope the centre will build on this by making the Fourth Industrial Revolution an equalising force, and contributing solutions to some of today’s most pressing challenges. We are very happy to have the World Economic Forum as a partner in this crucial and other endeavours.

Speaking at the launch, Borge Brende, president of the WEF, said that because the centre was the first of its kind to be set up in Africa, it will be a pacesetter.

“This is the first centre to be formally launched in Africa. It says a lot about the leadership in the country when it comes to leapfrogging and being visionary, when it comes to new technologies.

“I think that this Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda will play an important role to meet the ratio of Rwanda becoming an upper middle-income country by 2035. The centre, I hope, will be a key enabler of Rwanda’s goal of becoming an even more prosperous society,” he said.

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”.

“The Mo Ibrahim Foundation says in 2020, Africa’s population under 35 represents almost a billion people – 540.8 million 0 to 14-year-olds and 454.5 million 15 to 34-year-olds, amounting to 22.7% of the world’s total youth population, the second largest after Asia, which stands at 58%.”

With that in mind, Ingabire said the youth bulge was a huge advantage for the continent to drive technologically motivated growth.

She said:

The time has come for Africa to put itself at the very centre of a new technological revolution. Our continent has a unique competitive advantage that stems from an undeniably entrepreneurial spirit that is built into our young generations – that is an ability to innovate out of necessity.

The WEF defines the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way people live, work and relate to one another.


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