Rwanda’s ICT private sector strengthens commercial ties with Israel

In an attempt to fast track growth of the sector and the capacity of the players in the ICT sector, every year the Rwanda’s ICT Chamber chooses priority countries to visit to strengthen business ties and to study the global best practices in business, innovation, workforce development and to promote investment in Rwanda.

The Director General in charge of ICT in the Ministry of Youth and ICT, Didier Nkurikiyimfura speaking to the press on Tuesday stressed that "The business study trip is a great way to develop important connections with business and civic leaders from other parts of the world and we need to find partners willing to work with us on improving our capacities, whether in learning their practices, policies or outright adoption of their technologies, Israel we believe makes a great partner.”

The ICT Chamber Chairman, Patrick Kabagema noted that “This year the country of choice was Israel, a country known to many as the holy land but has in recent years also emerged as the birthplace of cutting age technologies. The startup nation as has recently come to be known because of the success of its startup companies mostly in the West boasts of second position to Silicon Valley with highest number of technology companies listed on the U.S. Nasdaq stock exchange.”

He added that Israeli technologies and knowledge have been said to be in almost every gadget that we use from as the 8 million people country has cut out a niche as the Research & Development centre of the world's Fortune 100 technology companies, from known brands like Intel, Google, Microsoft PayPal among others to the less known. 

Indeed some of the companies were looking for technologies to bring back to Rwanda, one such company is Datasystems which runs the brand Gira ICT in Rwanda, comments from its Managing Director Nadia Uwamahoro were, "I found a company producing a variety of affordable highly secure computers that I believe will be a great product not only in Rwanda but also in other countries in Africa where we are doing business."

"The reception we got from our Israeli hosts and the Rwanda Israel consulate was extremely welcoming, they opened up themselves and received us as brothers and sisters, this was showed throughout the visit both at big global companies like PayPal, Checkpoint, JVP partners and at startup incubators like SOSA, SIFTech as well as with Israeli government officials." Kabagema commented. 

The delegation was invited by Israeli venture capital firm Kaenaat & YPO which over the last two years have been working with the ICT Chamber. Asked about why Rwanda, Chairman of Kaenaat Mr. Yariv Cohen said "From the time we came to Rwanda, we've seen a country and people with vision and hardworking, Rwanda like Israel is a small country so as investors it was important for us to share what Israel has done to succeed with only a tiny local market. It is also equally important to us that Rwandan Business leaders teach Israeli entrepreneurs about the markets and their companies, so they jointly work on new solutions for the needs of the region. What we learnt in Israel is that technological innovation has to marry deep market knowledge in order to make a difference”.

Rwandan companies have the potential to be regionals and global players just like Israeli startups did and what picked my interest was to see how Rwandan young startups were eager to learn and connect, and this is not a one way street. Israeli companies have as much to learn from Rwandans as much as Rwandans are learning from Israel. For Israel to play a meaningful role in Africa, the best way to start is Rwanda add Angela Homsi a global impact investor. 

Just like Rwanda which suffered genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, Israel also lost over six million people in World War II due to the holocaust; the business delegation started its mission with a tour of the World Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Israel was built from the ashes of one the greatest atrocities against mankind. A desert was transformed into a $286 billion knowledge based economy where purpose and vision is only surpassed by the character of the nation. As the father of the modern Isreali stated: “In Israel, in order to be realist you must believe in miracle”.   

On the way forward, the ICT Chamber chairman said "In order to jump start our technology ecosystem, we already in discussion with Rwanda government and our Isreali partners  to establish three key initiative and projects: first, to create a center where Rwandans as young as 4 years old can be exposed to emerging technologies; second,  establish an incubator/elevator model which will include exchange of skills, knowledge, and joint ventures; last, but not least, the establishment of  Rwanda domiciled technology investment funds which will catalyze the growth of the technology sector.”

He added that “This will require close collaboration between private sector, government,   development partners, and other international partners. We’ve started on this with the first Glocal Angel Club where 5 Rwandan startups secured investment from local and international Angel investors since November 2014.”

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