Supporting digital transformation in Rwanda
Supporting digital transformation in Rwanda26 July, 2022 •
Fiacre Mushimire, Cenfri’s Policy Lead, answered some questions about the breadth of Cenfri’s work in Rwanda.
How and when did Cenfri start work in Rwanda?
Cenfri was founded in 2008 and first started working in Rwanda in 2014 when we evaluated an agricultural insurance pilot project for Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR).
A couple of years later, we developed a regulatory framework for micro-insurance regulations and then in 2018, we initiated another project via Cenfri’s insight2impact programme. The aim was to understand how mobile money works – the demographics, geographical distribution of transactions and overall mobile money journey for new and existing customers. In 2020, with the effects of the lockdown, Cenfri was asked to assist in assessing the impact that COVID-19 had on the adoption of cashless payments in Rwanda and that became a foundation of our Rwanda Economy Digitalisation programme.
Rwanda has an ambitious digitalisation plan; how is Cenfri supporting the government to achieve this objective?
Cenfri supports the government by working with agencies in the process of data discovery, policy landscape analysis and identifying how the various key performance indicators are measured. Cenfri also supports the upskilling of data specialists in various government agencies and has set up a community of practice where data professionals can exchange and learn from each other.
Lastly, Cenfri sets up dashboards at the various agencies, which enable them to track KPIs (almost in real time), simplify data acquisition, and automate reporting.
What would you say are the challenges in the digitalisation transformation journey?
People understand that data is valuable, but they do not necessarily know how to extract that value. Data, in turn, is often inaccessible – even to people within the same organisation. This often stems from the lack of internal policies and procedures on data access, storage, processing, archiving and disposal.
Then there is the issue of the data quality itself – often when the data is available it is ambiguous, duplicated, inaccurate, or inconsistent.
Data strategies, or to be precise, a lack thereof, adds further complexity. This leads to a major gap between linking data results to the actual meaning – data tells you what is happening, but it does not tell you why. This means that we still need to rely on people who know and understand the local context so that they can explain why certain things are happening the way they are.
To reach the digitalisation milestones that Rwanda has set, the government, private sector, and development partners need to understand the data they have and be willing to collaborate in generating value from that data.
Looking back to before the programme started, what has changed in using data to make evidence-based decisions?
The related challenges are becoming clear to the institutions with which we are working. More people have been sent to us for training, institutions are more receptive to the results of the data analysis and the process of identifying how policy impact will be measured using data has started to become standard procedure for the agencies.
What other projects is Cenfri doing beyond the Rwanda Economy Digitalisation Programme?
Cenfri has done and is doing several projects linked to financial sector development, innovation and deeper digital transformation in Rwanda. In particular, Cenfri worked with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation (MINICT), Kigali Innovation City, Access to Finance Rwanda and other relevant stakeholders in the financial sector to support the development of the draft fintech policy and strategy, which MINICT published in May 2022. Cenfri undertook market research on digital payments pricing for the NBR. We are also working with the NBR, supported by FSD Africa, to assess the current level of innovation in the Rwanda insurance market and identify opportunities for NBR to further support insurance innovation. Together with AFR, Cenfri conducted an initial assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the Rwanda insurance market towards the end of 2020.
In 2022, Cenfri conducted a high-level assessment of the potential for Open Finance in the Rwandan market, with some initial considerations for potential design to unlock innovation opportunities. In line with the draft fintech strategy, we are excited about further exploring the potential for Open Finance in Rwanda together with the appropriate stakeholders in the Rwandan financial sector. I think there are several other opportunities to collaborate and I invite you to reach out to Cenfri to explore them.
On a more personal note, how has your transition been from working in a government agency to Cenfri?
My transition has been smooth; thanks to the partnership with Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), I work from the same office and mostly interact with the same people in the industry (MINICT, RISA, NCSA, among others). However, a major change has been on how the impact is felt, at Cenfri we can easily produce results and see progress. This is not always the case in other working environments.