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Rwanda to launch $40M digitization project using AFD loan

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The Rwandan government is moving forward with a major project to digitize its public services and support innovative industries with the help of a €37 million (US$39.8 million) loan from the Government of France through the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

Rwanda's Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) confirmed the loan in a statement and said AFD was also giving the country a €1.2 million ($1.3 million) grant to help mobilize French expertise in the project areas.

The project aims to improve Rwanda's public services through digitization and also support innovations with high development potential like the drone industry.

"This support will allow, starting from 2023, modernization and harmonization of network infrastructure of central and local administrations, in particular those having direct interactions with citizens (districts and sector offices, hospitals and other government agencies), with the aim of improving the efficiency and capacity to provide quality public services," MINECOFIN said.

Drone development

The AFD loan will support the drone sector by financing the construction of a center of excellence as part of a Drone Operations Center (DOC), in Huye, Southern Province, which will be a place to test new use cases for the industry. The DOC will be managed by a private company.

A Geospatial Hub (GeoHub), a centralized geospatial data infrastructure and services hub, will also be set up and managed by the Rwanda Space Agency. The government said this will help improve evidence-based development, planning, monitoring and evaluation of public policies in various fields including urban planning, response to natural disasters, health and agriculture.

Rwanda's Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana, said the AFD financing will support the Rwandan government's efforts "to modernize the administrative network infrastructure, operationalize a Geospatial Center of Excellence and a Drone Operation Center with the objective of improving government's efficiency and capacity to deliver services, unlocking drone private sector development, and supporting policy design, monitoring and evaluation across government."

He said it would also support innovation and economic development based on geospatial and drone-generated databases.

"We are delighted with the signature of this new project, AFD's first financing in Rwanda in the digital sector. Because it will enable the delivery of quality public services in key institutions across the country, this project will help reduce access gap between the capital and the rest of the country. It will also make the country more attractive and create economic opportunities in Huye district thanks to support for the drone industry," added Arthur Germond, AFD's director in Rwanda.

Last year, neighbor Uganda also took out a $140 million loan from the World Bank with funds earmarked for a major digital project to improve Internet connectivity in the country.

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*Top image source: Gordon Johnson from Pixabay.

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

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