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Rwanda has laid foundation for 4th Industrial Revolution


The fourth industrial revolution is characterized by the following:
Cyber-physical systems and marketplace: IT systems today are at the heart of the production system. More efficient and innovative systems will be required to increase the production cycles.
For our local industries, this will call for investments in these systems. This is supported by a strong ICT sector which is supported by strong ICT graduates in the marketplace.
Smart robots and machines: In 4th industrial revolution, these will become intelligent, which means they will be able to adapt, communicate and interact. This will enable further productivity leaps for companies, having a profound change on cost structures, skills landscape and production sites.
As this is technically an advanced area for Rwanda, the quickest way to this is to encourage big player investors in all industry categories, who can bring in transfer of knowledge through their already advanced systems.
Rwanda Development Board has already and continues to work closely with different stakeholders to improve the investment climate.
To this end, the recently enacted investment code has provisions for ‘first mover advantages’ and this can quickly be used to attract key investors who would bring in the much needed advanced technologies in smart robots and machines.
Big data: Rwanda has invested in top notch ICT infrastructure, including a countrywide fiber optic network, and the ongoing LET network roll-out, which makes Rwanda infrastructure ready. However, there is need to increase ICT skills in these new fields, and it is well advisable for ICT students to invest in these skills.
Currently a lot of open education platforms like Coursera and MIT have free big data courses that graduates should take advantage of.
New quality of connectivity: In Industry 4.0 (4th revolution) the digital and real worlds are connected. Machines and human beings will constantly exchange digital information via Internet protocol which is now referred to as internet of things. This is where government intervention comes in, to ensure the right standards are in place for this new connectivity.
Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority and the Ministry of Youth and ICT should be at the forefront of these developments, along with International Telecommunication Union, which is leading in these standards, in order to ensure these are adopted as fast as possible. This will also make it attractive for investors who know in advance Rwanda standards on this.
Energy efficiency and decentralisation: Climate change and scarcity of resources are megatrends that will affect all industry 4.0 players. Rwanda is making tremendous efforts to meet its 536MW target by 2018 and has a comprehensive plan that looks at all energy sources.
The good news is that Lake Kivu is finally yielding its precious ‘energy gold’, while is quite a relief, but the government needs to quickly package more investment opportunities with regard to Lake Kivu potential. This is a key gap across Africa and needs government commitment to invest in energy infrastructure.
It’s obvious that the hard infrastructure has its gaps that need to be plugged, but even more important is the soft infrastructure of skills and government policies.

It is worth noting that the Ministry of Trade and Industry has in place an industrialization policy that has guided the setting up of various industrial parks in the country. But this policy will need revision to capture the 4th industrial revolution.