By Nnamdi Odumody
Social Innovation Incubator, Co-Creation Hub has decided to invest $11million in the country of a thousand hills; Rwanda. The R&D Unit will house designers, product developers and engineers who will collaborate with top scientists globally to solve some huge social challenges. The East African nation with its visionary leader Paul Kagame has made a bold decision to become a middle income knowledge-driven economy in Africa by the year 2020.
Co-creation Hub [CcHUB] will today officially launch the ‘CcHUB Design Lab’. The design lab is an unprecedented next step in Africa’s growing tech sector, and is set to become a leading creative space where its multidisciplinary team of product designers and engineers will collaborate with scientists and stakeholders globally, to explore the application of emerging technologies that will solve Africa’s systemic problems in Public Health, Education, Governance and the Private Sector.
The new state-of-the-art lab, located in Kigali, Rwanda, sees CcHUB, the leading innovation centre dedicated to accelerating the application of social capital and technology for economic prosperity, expand its physical presence to another African country, for the first time in its eight year history. CcHUB is now looking to partner with both public and private industry bodies from across the continent.
With the expansion, CcHUB plans to invest approximately $11m in Rwanda.
President Kagame wants to change the narrative of Rwanda from its horrific genocidal past which led to the death of several citizens to becoming Africa’s Singapore. His government has made massive investments in technology infrastructure and human capital development with the Kigali the capital city offering free internet services. The Kigali Innovation City (KIC), a $2billion project located in Kigali’s Special Economic Zone, plans to create an innovation driven-economy which will play host to world class universities, technology companies, biotech firms, commercial and retail real estate on 70 acres of land.
The KIC project is expected to create over 50,000 jobs and generate about $150 million in ICT exports annually as well as attract over $300 million in foreign direct investments. Over 2600 students are expected to graduate annually from the universities inside KIC adding to Rwanda’s tech talent. Some of the human capital development institutions include the African Institute Of Mathematical Sciences to nurture solution providers using data science to solve the continent’s problems, Carnegie Mellon University USA, the world’s highest ranked in Robotics, and African Leadership University Rwanda. There is $100million fund for innovative startups.
Also, Andela which develops world class technology talents and connects them with jobs in leading global organizations is setting up a technology hub in Rwanda, its fourth African market, partnering with the Rwanda Development Board which is responsible for transforming the country into Africa’s hub for business, investment and innovation. Rwanda ranks 29th in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, and has an easy visa system for other African nationals in order to attract talent.
The Smart Africa initiative which is to create a framework for African states, to utilize smart technologies for digital transformation in order to improve productivity, and the quality of living in their respective countries is also based in Kigali.
Kigali is also home to a Fab Lab for hardware makers, the African Design Centre, the highly ranked University of Rwanda with World Bank African Centres of Excellence in Data Science and the Internet Of Things.
CcHub was attracted by the burgeoning talent available in Rwanda, the infrastructure, ease of doing business and Rule of Law which informed its decision to venture into the East African market.
Nigeria has a lot of lessons to learn from this, as investors will only put their money where the government of the day has sowed ahead for the harvest, as they want to reap bountifully.