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Faith Nyasuguta 

Necessity is the mother of invention, and the Rwandan government seems to master this more than most following 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,” Rwandan Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation Paula Ingabire said.

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

Rwanda has launched its C4IR, noting that 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”.

So far the C4IR is working on the country’s artificial intelligence (AI) policy and laws on the protection of personal data and privacy.

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

“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,” he said.

Adding, “We are very happy to have the World Economic Forum as a partner in this crucial centre and other endeavours”

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

Rwandan Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation Paula Ingabire /Twitter, @NewTimesRwanda/

“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.

According to the facility’s managing director, Crystal Rugege, the centre 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 represented 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%.”

Against that backdrop, Ingabire said the youth bulge was a great advantage for the continent to drive technologically motivated growth.

“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,” she said.

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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Faith Nyasuguta

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