When it comes to technological advancement and infrastructural development, Rwanda's ambitions appear to be untamed. The construction of Africa's own Silicon Valley in Kigali has started and this will work to cement Rwanda's position as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.
The construction of the Kigali Innovation City (KIC) is set to make a lot of impact on Africa's transformation agenda spurred by a Pan-African desire for human and economic development. The project is an agreement between Rwanda and Africa50, a Pan-African infrastructure investment platform. The ambitious deal was signed by the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Uzziel Ndagijimana, and the Africa50 Chief Executive Officer, Alain Ebobisse.
This was revealed on the sidelines of the ongoing Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa this week.
Kigali Innovation City will serve as Africa's own Silicon Valley. It is located in Kigali's Special Economic Zone and is valued at around $2 billion. Under the arrangement, Africa50 will develop and finance a "Digital Innovation Precinct", including commercial and retail complexes, as part of Kigali Innovation City, according to a statement from Africa50.
It will also host world-class universities, technology companies, biotech firms, and commercial and retail real estate on 70 hectares of land. Some universities have started setting up campuses in the area and these include Carnegie Mellon University, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and African Leadership University.
"This is an innovative effort, the first of its kind on the continent. It will have Pan-African development impact both in terms of economic and human capital. For instance, Kigali Innovation City is expected to create over 50,000 jobs annually. Our aim is to build a critical mass of talent, research and innovative ideas that will transform Africa," said Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente at the Africa Investment Forum.
He added, "Kigali Innovation City forms part of the Government of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 development program and National Strategy for Transformation 2017-2024. It is one of the projects that aims at establishing Rwanda as a globally competitive knowledge-based economy."
There is a lot of zeal being invested into a project of this huge magnitude, such that the project is expected to create over 50,000 jobs and generate some $150 million in ICT exports annually, as well as attract over $300 million in foreign direct investment. Adding to that, over 2,600 students are expected to graduate annually from its universities over 30 years, adding to Rwanda and Africa’s pool of tech-savvy entrepreneurs.
If this plan takes off and is successful, there will be great fortunes for Africa as a whole to realize. For Rwanda, the benefits would be immense.
Africa50 will be at the forefront of the development of KIC, applying its project development, financial structuring, and infrastructure development expertise, working alongside the Rwanda Development Board and other partners during the development phase.
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