advertisement

The Decades Mugabe Stole From Zimbabwe. Africa Tech Summit Kigali Reminded Me Of The Sad Truth

advertisement

I expressed excitement and a lot of expectation for what the Africa Tech Summit in Kigali would deliver before the event started last morning. As you know, expectation sets you up for disappointment. Not this time. The summit started off very well.

advertisement

The discussions were all very relevant not just to the techie/startup type person but to the African continent and context. I am still excited to consume Day 2. I however, have much too much to share on Day 1 experiences. I need to share what startups are building across the continent. The thing I don’t have though is time. Hold me to this, I am gonna write about all this exciting stuff in the coming days. As soon as I can.

So, it’s funny that a tech summit would remind me of Robert Mugabe but it did. The opening remarks to the summit were given by some Rwandan government guy responsible for a unit that’s in charge of ICT innovation or something like that. I usually don’t remember government type people let alone in Rwanda.

advertisement

What struck me though is how much he articulated the government’s position on ICT. I know Zimbabweans are used to eloquence from bureaucrats and it means nothing but this was different. He shared how his government was in the middle of implementing a 20-year vision for Rwanda.

What is their vision? To become a knowledge-based economy. Yes, simple like that. Beautiful like that. For all his eloquence, tell me a succinct 20, 10, 5 or 1-year vision Mugabe ever put forward… If a national vision needs me to read 230 pages excluding tables, diagrams, and the foreword, then it is useless to anyone including the person who wrote it.

The impressive thing is not that this guy articulated this vision well and broke it down well. It’s his job to do so and of course, he had time to prepare to speak. What really impresses me is the belief that every Rwandan I have met has in where their country is going and their conviction to contribute there. That’s what a simple vision does. You can see it, smell it, touch it. Rwanda people do smell it, see it and they are gonna touch it.

I spoke to a charming young lady, a coder. She was not in when the address by the government suit was delivered but she sounded as if they had shared notes. She was so excited about what she does and the problems she wants to solve. I am always looking for such kinds of people in Zimbabwe and I don’t meet them often. I don’t know if I am such myself even.

Rwanda is still a long while off but you know they are on the right track when a government dude not only knows about IoT, AI and robotics but clearly understands how these are tools that have a specific place within the context of his country and how they are applying these technologies to solve real problems.

Talk of technology in Zimbabwe government circles is always merely at the level of ’empowering the youth’ (what does that even mean?) or more worryingly about how to allocate spectrum and how to get more out of telcos.

Anyway, I still have hope, lots of hope. And I really need to go to the conference now…


Quick NetOne, Telecel, Africom, And Econet Airtime Recharge

If anything goes wrong, click here to enter your query.


WhatsApp Discussions

Click to join a Techzim WhatsApp group:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/BAKguGt02jgDcBO2YZoXuv

If you find the group full, please notify us on +263 715 071 199 and we'll update the link.


10 thoughts on “The Decades Mugabe Stole From Zimbabwe. Africa Tech Summit Kigali Reminded Me Of The Sad Truth

  1. Cant’t quite see where the headline fits with the article content. Maybe I was looking for specific content like, in the past decade, Rwanda has built a world class tech hub which has been the spring board of notable startups like A, B and C. Then a comparison is given from a Zimbabwean context to highlight how the decades were stolen. ‘For all his eloquence, tell me an succinct 20, 10, 5 or 1 year vision Mugabe ever put forward…’ that is the only line that highlights the stolen decades which is rather disappointing. The article itself is good, but it is divorced from the title.

    1. Sorry to disappoint. I had only 15 minutes to write the article. Details about the ecosystem there and everything else will follow when I can write in a relaxed state not when I have slept for just two hours and I’m rushing to a session.

      The whole of Friday I will be in Kigali just visiting startups, banks, telcos and other key players in the tech ecosystem here as well as Zimbabweans who live and work in Kigali. I hope to then comprehensively write about all that and maybe publish some interviews

  2. The last time I worked on a Project in Kigali, Rwanda the president (Kagame) used to participate in a public clean-up campaign every Saturday. The Rwandans are fortunate to speak English, French and Swahili – all international languages, apart from Kinyarwanda. The team I worked with were all qualified and knew what was required. It was a pleasant experience. It appeared to me though, that they have not yet gone past the ethnic genocide of 1994 – the sadness is there in their faces but they’re trying to move on.

    1. I think there was no closure on the issue and there is some bit of uncertainity over what will develop when Kagame finally leaves office. I hope they will find answers to that question soon

      1. That’s my hope too that when Kagame does finally leave, the country’s vision perpetuates. They have to start that contingency now and plan forward.

    2. I have to agree with you on some of the facial expressions one notices when meeting some of our brothers and sisters from Rwanda. The legacy of that genocide manifests itself through. Time will heal.

  3. This article says what I have been feeling too. With the new dispensation people are so eager to go back to the old Zimbabwe where we were the bread basket of Africa et al.. while it’s ok to look back I feel we need a new dream for Zimbabwe. I don’t know what that is that is but it is our collective responsibility. The government should lead this drive for a new vision for Zimbabwe that everyone will buy into into to move our country forward .

  4. This article says what I have been feeling too. With the new dispensation people are so eager to go back to the old Zimbabwe where we were the bread basket of Africa et al.. while it’s ok to look back I feel we need a new dream for Zimbabwe. I don’t know what that is that is but it is our collective responsibility. The government should lead this drive for a new vision for Zimbabwe that everyone will buy into into to move our country forward .

    1. A very profound article Tinashe! I would suggest you continue the blog on the same title for some weeks. If as Zimbabweans we have been waiting for the “new dispensation” to come up with new thoughts and ideas to transform Zimbabwe, we have already lost the thought before we even got started. Visionary ideas, dreams should not have been triggered by the events of the week November 15, 2017. They must have predated this momentous week.

      I agree with Mai Maky that the New Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean Dream, the Zimbabwean Vision is our collective responsibility. And what, by the way is the Zimbabwean Vision? Politicians have usurped our responsibility for that vision. After the usual election campaign rhetoric of “We will give you jobs, we will………..”, what national vision are our politicians really articulating. The margins of vision mapping and visionary leadership are very slim between Zanu PF and the opposition. We have a huge dearth of visionary leadership.

      Where will Zimbabwe be in 2040, where will you be, your family, children, grandchildren, business, school, etc. The sum total of big, hairy scary audacious dreams builds into visionary individuals, families, businesses, communities morphing into a stronger developed nation with opportunities for everyone and future generations grateful for the solid foundations established for them.

      A story is told of “how the Rwandan President visited Denver and on seeing a city panorama from the top of one of the city’s towers was inspired to recreate his own capital.

      While in Denver, he met urban designer, Carl Worthington, who he hired to deliver a conceptual masterplan for Kigali, producing most of their work from maps created in the 1960s.
      Surbana, the Singapore based firm, joined the team to produce more detailed work. The plans now seek to reposition Kigali as a regional centre, where international firms can service not just Rwanda, but the neighbouring markets of Uganda, DR Congo, Tanzania and Burundi.”

      Rwanda’s national vision of transforming the country into a knowledge-based middle-income country is a result of a national consultative process both at inception and revision (from 1997 – 2012) and which they are implementing, with generational revisions (The Rwanda We Want: Vision 2020 has matured into Vision 2050: High Standards of Living for Rwandans).

      Dare it be said that one man with a vision, a supporting team and a willing nation with their backs against a wall, transformed a former British colonial trading post into a thriving Asian metropolis. At independence, 1965, Singapore’s founding fathers, Lee Kuan Yew, S. Rajaratnam and Goh Keng Swee dedicated their lives to transform Singapore from being a third world to a first world country within 35 years (it has taken Zimbabwe 37 years to almost self destruct).

      It is time Zimbabweans we started asking the tough questions, about ourselves, our leadership, our nation and its development. Anyone can be blessed with the gift of gab, we need authentic visionary leaders to step up (individually, in families, society and our nation) and make Zimbabwe successful and a great nation.

      “To change with change is a changeless state”.

Comments are closed.