Monday, 20 May 2013

World Information Society Day: ICT brings a bag of pros and cons


Pupils of Kimisagara Primary School use their laptops. 
The information and telecommunication technology sector is believed to improve business transactions and communication in society, but Rwandans say the new technology tools have been leading to moral degeneration amongst the youth while also promoting theft.  

Emmanuel Mbonabucya, the project manager of Circuit Power LTD, a company that deals in electronics has been using internet to import generators, air conditioners and fuel dispensing pumps for three years.

He said, “I have been importing my commodities from Lebanon always ordering products worth Rwf 10m, but I have never met any of my suppliers, if not through exchanging e-mails and phone calls to track my products.” 

In this deal, he said, the supplier sends me a quotation, which is a price list of the items that we deal in, and then I look at it to ensure that it fits my budget. When I find that I have no objection, I make a deposit by telegraphic transfer, an electronic means of transferring funds overseas. 

It is upon payment that the supplier ships or airlifts the products to the agreed location. 

Mbonabucya did not dream of doing online business overnight, but he took the decision after carrying out some research on the supplying companies. 

“I looked at products that had the logo of the company I wanted to trade with, so as to make sure it is not a phantom company,” he said. “Then I started to chat with them, used Skype to even see the people I am going to deal with before confirming that they were genuine traders.” 

Innovative offices

Apart from supplying companies and their clients, offices also use ICT in their daily business. 

Installing in his cell phone software that would help him access his emails as they come for a quick response, Gaston Hakizimana, an employee of  Reime Rwanda, a technology company said ICT tools are key in their daily business. 

He said they monitor their telecom masts around the country and fuel their field vehicles from office. 

“In the past, our drivers used to carry jerrycans of fuel as reserve, but nowadays, they communicate when they are short of fuel and we send an e-mail to Engen petrol station using their smart card where we give them information about the vehicles and the quantity of fuel required,” he said, adding that the entire process takes five minutes. 

The benefits of ICT are cross-cutting–from enabling education to facilitating business to thrive. 


In recognition of the importance of ICT, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in March 2006 dedicating May 17 every year to World Information Society Day. 

Information on the International Telecom Union web site says the aim was to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of Internet and other information and communication technologies can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide. 

Friday marked the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union.  

Patrick Nyirishema, the in charge of ICT in Rwanda Development Board, said the day is not celebrated in Rwanda but many other days in relation to ICT are celebrated. 

In their report released early April, the World Economic Forum  and European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD), ranked Rwanda  among the top 10 countries in Africa that are in better position to benefit from new information and communication technologies. 

To rank countries, INSEAD considers several aspects, including a country’s market and regulatory framework in advancing ICT for inclusive development.  

Also, the e-Soko project scooped the International Arch of Europe Award, for its outstanding quality data prices that have helped Rwandan farmers and buyers to access daily commodity prices on the market.

Conning in the name of serving 

Despite the good services they offer, the new information technologies are also being abused. Some people use them to defraud, to kidnap, among others. 

Hakizimana recalls a scenario in 2009, when his boss almost lost his job because he had received fake information saying he had gotten a better offer at the United Nations. 

“My boss received an e-mail saying that he had secured a job which he had applied for online, then he resigned to take it up,” he said. 

According to an e-mail he received, Hakizimana’s boss was supposed to go to the UN office in Kigali for travel facilitation, only to be told that they did not have any information about him in their database. 

That was when he realised that he had been conned of $3,000, apparently, for “to be connected to his new job.” Desperate, he rushed back to his former office. 

“Our head office in the US had started the process of recruiting his replacement. Fortunately, he was reinstated and the process was called off,” Hakizimana said.


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