Last week Rwanda government officials and ICT SMEs met to tackle the biggest challenges facing technology development in the Rwandan market. Among the attendees were Charles Gahungu, a RURA representative, Serge Rusagara, Chairman of the IT Hardware & Solution Association, Francoise Karenzi, the founder and CEO of Alpha Computers and entrepreneurs with extensive experience in IT across the Rwandan and East African region.
The IT Hardware & Solution Association was designed to gather all individuals and companies that are involved in selling and/or manufacturing IT hardware materials and implement a wide range of solutions ranging from Anti-virus to software in the Rwandan market.
During the conference, the most persistent challenges addressed were the lack of genuine products on the market, disparities in quotations for tenders and under selling IT products. The ICT chamber encouraged the entrepreneurs to join efforts to protect the products coming into the Rwanda market, where RURA (Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority) representative, Mr. Charles Gahungu, insisted by saying, “Help us protect you.”
With this being mentioned, more resolutions were initiated around how to know or measure the genuineness of products. One of the best solutions for that is the sharing of product verification details, which entrepreneurs and vendors were encouraged to give to the Ministry of ICT & Innovation. Other solutions include providing training and education sessions on IT products and relying more on suppliers with good quality products rather than price.
The CEO and founder of Alpha Computer suggested as part of the solution that RISA (Rwanda Information Society Authority) should be involved in product verification of IT products entering the Rwandan market. RISA has been put in place by the government of Rwanda to be the lead in all ICT project implementation, as well as to streamline research, infrastructure and innovation within the ICT sector. RISA’s mission is to digitize Rwandan society through increased usage of ICT as an enabler for the development of other sectors.
In these conversations Mr. Gahungu encouraged entrepreneurs to also look into solutions for e-waste in Rwanda. RURA has taken the first step by working with GIZ (The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) to train small companies to be able to recycle.
The ICT chamber will be organizing similar sessions every three trimesters, and also involve financial institutions like banks to finance small ICT businesses.
Everyone has suddenly become much more aware of the very real role that functioning supply chains play in our quality of life, as individuals and societies, and that broken supply chains can, in fact, cost lives. The question of the day, month and year is, how do we fix them, and quickly? With a bit of support, SMEs can be a big part of the solution.