"In Rwanda, and all over the world, emerging technologies have driven innovations to contain the COVID pandemic and mitigate its impact on livelihoods.” This is how Rwandan President Paul Kagame introduced the official launch of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR), in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and Innovation, and the World Economic Forum, on the theme "Shaping the Future of Technology Governance in Africa."
The first in Africa
Established in 2020, the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda (C4IR) is the first of its kind in Africa. It is part of a global network of 16 centers, working to promote emerging technologies that can empower global change.
C4IR Rwanda focuses primarily on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data governance. It partners with stakeholders around the world to design and implement new approaches to technology governance while creating a conducive environment for innovation and investment in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
A revolution that Africa, and Rwanda in particular, do not want to miss. " The way we live, work and interact with each other will keep evolving as technology does,” said the Rwandan president. “The launch of this Centre is enabled by investments that we, as a country, have been making in science and technology."
Indeed, Rwanda has put digital at the center of its development model for several years. It has been investing in the sector with, among other achievements, Kigali Innovation City which is to serve as a catalyst for the sector.
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, who joined the ceremony through video, highlighted the importance of Africa taking the lead in shaping the future of technology governance: “I have no doubt that the center will herald a new era for Rwanda and the continent. Innovation and entrepreneurship are key in heralding the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The work of our 4IR Centers has always been important, but in this time of great global upheaval it is more crucial than ever to build together a better future and use technology to do so.”
“We will use the center as a catalyst for Africa to lead the world in shaping a more inclusive fourth industrial revolution"
C4IR Rwanda will work with stakeholders around the world to design and pilot new approaches to technology governance in the country to help foster innovation inclusively and responsibly.
"Building on Rwanda's track record of reimagining regulation for emerging technologies, C4IR Rwanda plays a critical role in responsibly accelerating technological adoption,” said Crystal Rugege, Managing Director of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda. “We will use the center as a catalyst for Africa to lead the world in shaping a more inclusive Fourth Industrial Revolution that addresses our unique challenges and unlocks more equitable opportunities for innovation and growth that deliver societal impact."
Several pilot projects and first partnerships
C4IR Rwanda plays a leading role in developing Rwanda's landmark data protection and privacy legislation and co-designing its national AI policy. There are currently several pilot projects being conducted with the private sector on AI application in healthcare to examine how solutions can be scaled and governed responsibly.
One example of such collaboration is the integration of the Chatbots RESET framework developed by the World Economic Forum. The Rwanda AI Triage pilot, led by global healthcare company Babylon, has adopted the framework to handle over 4,000 daily medical consultations through its call centers. This enables nurses to work more efficiently and make quicker decisions for their patients by asking the right questions, collecting necessary information about a patient’s symptoms, and providing them with insights to help choose the correct triage path. Integrating AI-powered triage tools into this service has been a critical step in digitizing the national healthcare system.
On the sidelines of the launch, C4IR signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Novartis Foundation and Norrsken East Africa to support the Norvatis HealthTech Hub.
A Memorandum of Understanding was also to be signed with the UNDP Resilience Hub, an initiative under UNDP’s Regional Africa Bureau and C4IR Rwanda as its first institutional partner, with the commitment to jointly shape Africa’s 4IR agenda and pilot the products borne from the AL4IR initiative.