Travelling to Digital Rwanda

Tuesday, 2. July 2019

Innovation and Imihigo: Learning from the vow of the warrior

How to build political and entrepreneurial obligations? Rwanda’s president Kagame has a stunning answer. He reanimated the old custom of Imihigo: To keep promises publicly made to your community. How African traditions and modern technology can intertwine is shown during the next Learning Journey.

In ancient times, Rwandan warriors declared their personal goal before going on the hunt for the community. The goal had to be clearly stated, not too vague nor too ambitious. Upon their arrival the warriors had to justify themselves in front of the other villagers. They then decided if the objectives were met or not.

To keep promises – for development and politics

Today, majors commit to the annual goals they want to reach once a year via radio. End of year, everyone gives proof of truth. These public performance rankings for representatives have a similar outcome to the traditional vows of the warriors. The peer-group pressure ensures solid results.  

  • Rwanda is the second-fastest growing economy in Africa
    – with 8 % annually right after Ethiopia.
  • You can register your company within 6 hours
    – also 2nd rank, after Mauritius.
  • 64 % of parliamentarian are women
    – 1st rank worldwide. Girls and boys have equal rights to go to school.
  • 90 % of the population have access to the health system,the life expectancy doubled since 1994, infant mortality was cut in half.
  • Drones deliver blood preservations within 30 minutes to every rural hospital and save lives that would have been lost 2 years ago.

25 years after the genocide, Rwanda is the most digitalized country in Africa regarding e-governance. The entire communication with citizens is handled over a one-stop-portal – from health insurance to construction permits. Plus, Rwanda is the cleanest country. Waste separation is required by law. Plastic bags are banned since 2006 (!). Role model and cooperation partner is Singapore.

How does such fast development succeed?

There is a clear path and a government without corruption. The downside: On the ranking list for freedom of press 2019 of Reporters without Borders, Rwanda ranked 155 of 180 countries. Political opponents have „accidents“ or simply disappear behind bars for the rest of their life. Still, political spectators see president Kagame as „benevolent dictator“ who would win every reelection even under legal circumstances.

Would you like to dive into this fascinating, controversial country on our Learning Journey (august 23 to 26)?

We are visiting Zipline (drones), Andela (IT-experts), Rwanda Online (e-government). Also, we are meeting successful entrepreneurs, smart startups, and learn about traditions like Umuganda, Gacaca and Girinko.

What’s to learn on this innovation journey and what do alumni say? Read it here.

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