February 15th, 2017

Inaugural Commonwealth ICT Applications Forum calls for support for app entrepreneurship

Kigali, 15 February 2017 – App developers, policymakers and regulators have gathered in Kigali, Rwanda to promote mobile app entrepreneurship as a means to accelerate the development of ICT applications in areas such as education, health and other sectors.

The Commonwealth ICT Applications Forum ’17, organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) and hosted by the Ministry of Youth & ICTs, Republic of Rwanda, will showcase the work of app entrepreneurs and hear how policy and regulation can foster innovation.

“ICT applications offer enormous potential to enhance socio-economic development,” said Shola Taylor, Secretary-General of the CTO. “We have assembled in Kigali to discuss how innovative ICT apps can assist communities, enhance national economic growth, expand national ICT industries and promote understanding between people and communities.”

Fuelled by the rise of smartphones, phablets and tablets, the global app industry is expected to be worth around US$190 billion by 2020.

Speaking at the opening of the event, Honourable Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth & ICT, Republic of Rwanda outlined the potential for the app economy.

“The app economy means what? It means lives saved,” said Honourable Nsengimana. “Apps are saving lives; farmers are being empowered; education is being improved; governments are being made to be responsive and responsible.”

Honourable Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth & ICT, Republic of Rwanda

Key expectations to enable the app economy discussed at the event so far include:

  • Calls to reform the education system and create programmes that foster public and private partnership applications;
  • Demands for platforms to develop and share local knowledge more easily;
  • Attractive fiscal policies for start-up technology companies;
  • Support for national infrastructure for applications such as e-government, e-transactions and e-health to be put in place;
  • Clearer policies for data centres as the data are stored in cloud;
  • National cybersecurity, solid judicial systems and institutional readiness.

Also speaking at the opening ceremony, Andrew Rugege, Regional Director for Africa, Telecommunication Development Bureau, International Telecommunications Union (ITU), said:

“The Commonwealth ICT Applications Forum 2017 is one of the gateways and opportunities for us to ensure that Africa does not once again get left behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Andrew Rugege, Regional Director for Africa, Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU

The Commonwealth ICT Applications Forum ’17 will feature an interactive session to identify apps that can address current and practical needs and hear how policymakers can cultivate a vibrant app economy. The event also showcased inspiring ICT entrepreneurs, such as:

  • Ronald Katamba, Jaguza Livestock App, Uganda
  • Dr Agbor Ashu, GiftedMom, Cameroon
  • Jean Niyotwagira, Torque Ltd, Rwanda
  • Shikama Dioscore, Agrigo Ltd, Rwanda
  • Richard Migambi, Evolve Ltd, Rwanda

The Kigali event, which is also supported by telecommunications regulator Rwandan Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), is part of a wider effort by the CTO and member countries to promote the use of ICT applications for socio-economic development in areas such as e-governance, e-health, e-education and e-agriculture.

For more information, please contact Emma Killick at e.killick@cto.int or +44 20 8600 3813.

About the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation
The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is the oldest and largest Commonwealth intergovernmental organisation in the field of information and communication technologies. With a diverse membership spanning developed and least developed countries, small island developing states, and more recently also the private sector and civil society, the CTO aims to become a trusted partner for sustainable development for all through ICTs. More information about us here. 

About the Ministry of Youth & ICTs 
The mission of the Ministry of Youth and ICT is to “address national priorities for economic growth and poverty reduction through the development and coordination of national policies and programmes related to youth empowerment as well as Information & Communication Technology policies and programmes. More information can be found here. 

About Rwandan Utilities Regulatory Authority
RURA aspires to be a point of reference in public utilities regulation that inspires development and confidence. Our mission is to build and environment that promotes fair competition and quality of public service in a transparent, independent and reliable manner. More information about RURA can be found here.