- Africa’s first own smartphone, the MARA phone, is manufactured at a plant in Rwanda apart from South Africa, and exports to 41 countries, including Germany, UK, Switzerland and Italy.
Written By Ebow Quayson - I was privileged to be in Rwanda last month for three days attending a fintech summit. Though the visit was short, a few things got me thinking about how a former war-torn country could have made such giant strides in a few years.
I did a few enquiries speaking to taxicab drivers, as well as a young Ghanaian lawyer: Nana Asamoah Tannor. The following facts were obvious:
From the Kigali Airport to the central business district, you could see palm trees carefully planted in the medians of the dual carriage roads. It is clear that the Parks & Gardens Department are earning their keep.
I was made to understand that if a car broke a tree, the driver paid a fine of $2500! Very little litter could be found on the streets like plastic bags, paper, etc., as seen at Makola, Tudu, etc.
There was visible Police presence and in some cases, military, at vantage points. I understand that it is safe to travel and for a vibrant night life in Kigali, because of this.
Ghana also does this, but the most striking point for me was a metal scanner for all vehicles entering Kigali Airport!
I’m yet to see this even at a US, European or Canadian airport. More importantly, no unregistered vehicle is allowed in the airport.
Another observation that I made is that motor cyclists did not jump traffic lights as in Ghana.
All motor cyclists strictly observed the traffic rules and did not use the shoulder of roads to beat traffic.
Their ‘okada’ (commercial motorcycle) drivers are well dressed, uniformed, pay taxes, wear helmets together with passengers and can be well identified. I also understand they have a union like our own Ghana Private Road Transport Union.
Rwanda’s main exports are coffee, tea and tin; and it is landlocked! Compared to Ghana, we have a vast advantage in this regard.
In spite of this and the civil war they went through, they are being creative with the little they have. The country has deliberately positioned itself as a tourist area and business destination, with the construction of the Kigali Convention Centre for international summits.
This centre has a five star hotel with 292 rooms, a conference centre with a seating capacity of 2600, a museum and an information technology park.
The 2020 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting is scheduled to be hosted here in June this year, barring an escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a time when most African airlines are struggling to float above water, Rwandair (national airline) is making considerable strides in spite of sustained losses.
It is making efforts to go into partnership with Qatar Airways, that wants a partner in Africa to counter Emirate’s dominance of the African skies. Rwanda has also allowed Qatar Airways to purchase a 60 per cent stake in the new Bugesera International Airport after the 49 per cent stake in Rwandair.
It is clear that Rwanda wants to be hub for Central Africa aviation and also challenge established airlines like Ethiopian and Kenya Airways.
Another area where it is attracting investments is ICT. As far back as 2014, Rwanda rolled out 4G broadband services. ICT parks are being established in special economic zones to facilitate research and development.
Africa’s first own smartphone, the MARA phone, is manufactured at a plant in Rwanda apart from South Africa, and exports to 41 countries, including Germany, UK, Switzerland and Italy.
With hope and determination, Rwanda has made giant strides in several sectors and made something out of nothing! Is Ghana learning from their experiences? I hope so!!!
— The writer has more than 21 years of experience in the banking sector and is also an aircraft enthusiast.