Rwandan government launches AI centre to boost technological innovation

By on 12/04/2022 | Updated on 12/04/2022
A picture of the president of Rwanda Paul Kagame
The president of Rwanda Paul Kagame. C4IR was established in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF) and will focus on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in government

Rwanda has created a centre dedicated to the development of artificial intelligence to help create “faster, more agile approaches” to using the use of emerging technologies by government.

The centre has been created as part of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) network of centres focused on the development of artificial intelligence, called the Centre of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR). The Fourth Industrial Revolution, according to the WEF, refers to bringing together a host of different technologies including artificial intelligence to transform large areas of society, including digital services.

The WEF hosts a global network of 15 centres, with each aiming to “level up local policy expertise and ownership with global network-based learning and scaling”.

The Rwandan government said it was creating a centre to join the group – the first in Africa – as the speed and scale of technological change in the COVID-19 pandemic was putting “enormous pressure on regulatory environments”. The new centre is intended to help the country collaborate with global stakeholders to design and pilot new solutions in technology governance.

Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, said the centre was a result of the investment the country had 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.

Paula Ingabire, Rwandan minister of information communication technology and innovation, added that “there is an increased urgency to develop digital and technological capacities to build more resilient systems for a healthier society and more sustainable economy”.

Read more: Rwanda pilots digital aid transparency scheme

AI ‘could help boost national prosperity’

Rwanda’s C4IR is currently working to develop new digital governance policy around AI laws, which includes protection of personal data and privacy.

Ingabire highlighted that the African countries have “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”, and Borge Brende, president of the WEF, praised Rwanda’s government for hosting the first C4IR outpost in the continent.

“It says a lot about the leadership in the country when it comes to leapfrogging and being visionary, when it comes to new technologies,” he said.

“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.”

Read more: East Asian governments surge in AI readiness – see global rankings in full

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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