The role of Parliaments in setting
priorities: Rwanda perspective.
by Sen. Gasamagera Wellars,
Member of the Political and Good Governance Committee,
Member of Rwanda Parliament ICT Steering Committee.
• Africa development agenda faced with issues of
governance and democracy, while also coping with
developmental challenges and poverty reduction.
• Rwanda is confronted to structural problems:
– low income and productivity,
– low level of human resources development,
– weak economy supported by low revenues and poor export
– About 60% of the population lives below the poverty line
– Consequences of Tutsi genocide in 1994 with more than a
million dead, vulnerable citizens, destroyed infrastructure,
substantial de-capitalization and reduced social capital
Vision and Plan
• VISION 2020, a pragmatic agenda for Rwanda to
become a middle income country by the year 2020.
• Good political and economic governance;
• Rural economy transformation;
• Development of services;
• Human resources development;
• Development of the private sector and creating an enabling
• Regional and international economic integration and
• Poverty reduction.”
• NICI PLAN II (2006-2010), a Rwanda national ICTs
strategic plan developed and renewed every 5 years;
a transformational tool to enable Rwanda’s
Tapping traditional values.
• Traditional institutions have been identified as a
means promoting shared and internalized values :
– Umuganda:Tradition of community work on public utility
– Ubudehe:Tradition of community mutual assistance.
– Gacaca:Tradition of communal conflict resolution, now very
instrumental in settling cases of genocide crimes,
– Umusanzu:Tradition of support for the needy and contribution
to the achievement of common goals,
– Imihigo:Tradition of vowing to attain community self-assigned
targets, followed by celebrating collective success.
– Kwinenga:Collective social audits/social accountability.
Shared institutional responsibility
• In total independence, the three constitutional powers (Parliament,
Judiciary and Government) develop strategies that encompass
goals fixed in their respective missions within V2020 guidelines.
• The bicameral Parliament of Rwanda has a declared mission to
legislate (including budgeting), citizen representation, to oversee
government action and proper implementation of policies”.
• The Senate is particularly entrusted with monitoring respect of
fundamental constitutional principles:
• national unity, genocide ideology eradication, non discrimination, rule of law,
equitable opportunities for all, human and other fundamental rights...
• Strategies: increased capacity for law making, thorough
information for government oversight and the rule of law.
• In the exercise of institutional prerogatives, ICTs are highly
National priorities setting
• Government of Rwanda recognized need for
transformation to develop the country into an
Information and Knowledge Economy (IKE), an economy
in which the provision and delivery of services are to a
large extent facilitated by ICT strategies.
• Despite its limited capacity, Rwanda took a proactive
decision of allocating a sizeable proportion of its
budget to ICTs development activities. Parliament
makes sure this is respected.
• Parliament was among the first institutions to join
momentum and engaged to be on top, through
modernization of its services
Parliament network Diagram
Challenges and opportunities
• Material resources (infrastructure and equipment) and
financial means .
• Staffing: considerable shortages in skilled personnel; brain
drain towards western world greener pastures.
• Self-tailored software development: context specificity,
including local content; locally developed capacity, rather
than replication of foreign generic solutions.
• Rwanda Parliament needs to solve particular technicalities,
such as a highly interactive and dynamic website, handling
Hansards into structured corpus, voice to text solutions and
speech recognition technology.
• However, commendable assistance like open source facilities,
partnerships saving time, energy and scarce finance.
• Unique language and a single culture facilitate IT applications
and solutions with local language and content: LINUX
operating system and soon Google. Regional projects:
Kalisimbi air surveillance project, EASSy submarine cable...
Today’s priority: strengthening achievements
and building confidence and security
• Confidence and security are among the pillars of the
• Different IT applications (e-government, e-democracy, e-
commerce) use widening to different areas in the society: threats
to information security.
• Reinforcement of the legal/regulatory framework and
introduction of the security concept in sectoral strategies of all
• Adequate laws against cyber crimes and other practical
technological security solutions.
• Creation and promotion of a security culture with security
awareness, ethic- based responsibility, permanent risk
• Development of risk control methods and monitoring of an
acceptable level of risk present in the organization.
• Rwanda emerges from genocide and faces important socio-
economic constraints :a vision is set by the country leadership
and shared by the community, Vision 2020.
• It consists in transforming the country into a knowledge-based
economy through ICTs deployment.
• Constraints: scarce resources, of which tackled priorities were HR
capacity, ICT infrastructure and equipment. Single culture and
language help introducing local content. Taking stock of
integrating regional ICT projects.
• Widening use of ICT is raising a new priority: society of
information confidence and security.
• Adequate laws and regulations to inspire community confidence
• Setting priorities entails prior environment scan. Room must be
provided also for emergent strategies.