As Rwanda seeks to add over 200 e-services to Irembo — an online portal that serves as a gateway to different government services — by mid-next year, at least five million Rwandans need digital literacy to be able to use the platform, according to the Ministry of ICT and Innovation.
Yves Iradukunda, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of ICT and Innovation said digital literacy is the backbone of Rwanda’s digital transformation as technology is an enabler of socio-economic development.
“Digital literacy is a priority. It is one thing to have infrastructure for connectivity and devices, but we need to be able to use these tools to access services. The Government of Rwanda has been digitalising different services to ease service delivery to citizens. The end goal of different training is to have a digital economy. Our goal is to have all government services digitised by the end of next year end-to-end,” he said.
Irembo platform has over 100 services and, Iradukunda said “200 more will be put online by June next year.”
In total, about 400 e-services digitised on Irembo will be available by next year.
More e-services to be added to the platform are being identified across different sectors such as forest services, livestock movement, licenses to open and operate a health facility, import permits, research permits, and various Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority (RURA) licenses.
Others are various documents issued at village, cell, and sector levels, accreditation and inspection services, payment of certain specific services like cemetery fees, cleaning fees, and market fees, and provision of laboratory analysis services at the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), to mention but a few.
The project is estimated to cost over $12 million (approx. Rwf14.8 billion).
Iradukunda mentioned that the government employed ICDL, an international social enterprise organisation focused on improving digital skills standards in the workforce, education, and society. They provide computer skills certification to ensure that public servants are adequately equipped with digital literacy. This enables them to efficiently deliver various e-services.
The partnership aims to resolve low computer and digital literacy among citizens. The training and professional certification is based on the labour market’s needs and potential growth. Rwanda aims to achieve a 60 per cent digital literacy rate among its citizens by 2024.
The Digital Ambassador Programme (DAP) was implemented to connect five million Rwandans with limited or no internet experience. This initiative, mainly led by young individuals, aims to offer comprehensive training to ordinary citizens on utilising e-government services.
The programme also aims to transform rural communities into digitally literate and skilled ones through digital literacy training, increased access to information, internet services, ICT infrastructure, and different applications for the provision of online services such as e-health, e-agriculture, e-business, e-commerce, and digital financial inclusion services.
Revamping the teaching of digital literacy in schools
In order to boost the penetration of digital literacy, Iradukunda said the way of teaching digital literacy has been revamped using the ICDL certification scheme.
The scheme seeks to standardise digital skills in higher learning institutions in Rwanda.
These can then become digital ambassadors to train citizens on digital literacy so that they get skills to access e-services.
“We are working closely to make sure that as the students learn, they get the skills when they graduate, contrary to current public servants that are catching up,” he said.
In March 2023, the Higher Education Council (HEC) held a meeting with over 26 higher learning institutions in Rwanda to discuss how the institutions could implement the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) programme, with the aim of having all students graduate with internationally recognised digital skills certification.
Rose Mukankomeje, the Director General of HEC, highlighted the importance of providing students with access to digital literacy programmes to enhance their readiness for the job market.