Rwanda joins the WEF C4IR network as the first African country

In partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Innovation of Rwanda launched the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in Rwanda.

These centres help to create new technology governance strategies and policies that will enable agility in a network that is rapidly growing. Rwanda’s C4IR will be focused on data governance, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

C4IR Rwanda, the first center in Africa, joins a network that includes 15 centers across four continents.

This global network was established by WEF as a platform to facilitate multistakeholder collaboration. It brings together the public and private sector to maximize technological benefits for society, while minimising risks associated with 4IR technology.

C4IR has played a leading role in developing Rwanda’s landmark data protection and privacy legislation and co-designing its national AI policy. A number of pilot projects are being undertaken with the private sector to test how AI can be applied in healthcare.

“The launch of this centre is enabled by investments that we, as a country, have been making in science and technology,” said President of Rwanda Paul Kagame at the centre’s opening ceremony.

“I hope the centre will build on this by making the Fourth Industrial Revolution an equalising force and contributing solutions to some of today’s most pressing challenges. We are very happy to have the World Economic Forum as a partner in this crucial and other endeavours.”

Rwanda will collaborate with international stakeholders to develop and test new models of technology governance in Rwanda to foster inclusive and responsible innovation.

C4IR Rwanda will also address governance issues regarding ethical adoption of artificial Intelligence.

“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 C4IR Rwanda.

“We will use the centre 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.”

One example of the WEF collaboration with Rwanda is the integration Chatbots RESET framework. Global healthcare company Babylon leads the country’s pilot project and has adopted the framework to handle over 4 000 daily medical consultations through its call centres.

This allows 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. The integration of AI-powered triage tools in this service is an important step towards digitalizing the national healthcare system.

“I have no doubt that the centre will herald a new era for Rwanda and the continent. Innovation and entrepreneurship are key in heralding the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said WEF founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.

“The work of our 4IR Centres 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.”

WEF President Børge Brende praised Rwandan leadership in a keynote address at the opening ceremony.

“It says a lot about the leadership in the country when it comes to leapfrogging and being visionary when it comes to new technologies. This Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda is an important component of Rwanda’s goal to become an upper-middle-income country by 2035. The centre, I hope, will be a key enabler of Rwanda’s goal of becoming an even more prosperous society.”

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