Will Rwanda become East Africa’s WiFi hotspot?

This was the subject of my just-published report from Kigali, appearing on GlobalPost.

KIGALI, Rwanda — If your last exposure to this East African country was the movie “Hotel Rwanda,” you have some catching up to do.

In the 15 years since the genocide of 1994 brought Rwanda international notoriety, the country has been on a development tear. It is orderly and calm; this year, the World Bank ranked it as the top pro-business reformer in the world.

Now, Rwanda is attempting to position itself on the cutting edge of tech in East Africa. There are plans — none completed so far — to provide a network of fiber optic cables, citywide WiFi in the capital, and one laptop for every child in the country by 2020.

As President Paul Kagame puts it in a statement on the Rwanda Development Board’s website, “In Africa, we have missed both the agricultural and industrial revolutions and in Rwanda we are determined to take full advantage of the digital revolution.”

Some foreigners in the capital scoff at the idea — Rwanda is a very poor country, and it’s still easier to get online in some neighboring countries.

But many other observers, both locally and internationally, think Rwanda may be on to something. Read more…

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