A First Glance At Rwanda

“Why put Rwanda on the map as your next IT outsourcing services destination?”

When we talk to people in Europe (or even elsewhere) about Code of Africa and IT outsourcing to Rwanda, we often have to share more about the country itself at first. For many Rwanda is a blind spot. Some remember the number "1994", lesser what really happened. Very few know where the country is located and what"s happening there today. Fair enough, if you ask a person from Hamburg what is going on it let us say Liechtenstein, the same would probably happen. Although Rwanda only has rare appearances in international media, the country has progressed greatly in the last 25 years and is now a model for other African countries in how to create stable governance structures that enable investment and real economic growth.  

Introducing Rwanda and sharing where the country stands today, which goals have been set (and already have been achieved), is close to our hearts and one of our core missions.


In several publications and articles Rwanda is referred to as the Singapore of Africa. Surely there are many things Singapore stands for, from low taxes, to very strict drug laws and of course cleanliness as well as being Asia for beginners. At least the two later ones the authors of the claim must have had in mind when stating this.

Axel Kuhlmann, Co-founder Code of Africa, after a recent visit to Kigali:

"When strolling along a super clean sidewalk - super clean for Hamburg, Germany standards - a group of city-employed cleaners came to apparently clean what seemed very clean already. They were picking up the very last leaf that had just fallen off a tree. Needless to mention that there was no trash around, not on the sidewalk, the street or on the grass planted between the roads. This is surely not the picture most have in mind when thinking of an African city roughly the size of Cologne."

An extremely strong work ethic is expected, with all government employees expected to be at their desk for 7am. Living in Kigali for almost one year now and interacting with a lot of stakeholders, it has not just happened once, that it was not me being the first showing up for a scheduled meeting...

Cultural Proximity

As part of efforts to reconstruct Rwanda and nurture a shared national identity, the Government of Rwanda drew on aspects of Rwandan culture and traditional practices to enrich and adapt its development programs to the country's needs and context. The result is a set of Home Grown Solutions - culturally owned practices translated into sustainable development programs. One of these Home Grown Solutions is Imihigo. Imihigo is the plural Kinyarwanda word of Umuhigo, which means to vow to deliver. Imihigo describes the pre-colonial cultural practice in Rwanda where an individual sets targets or goals to be achieved within a specific period of time. The person must complete these objectives by following guiding principles and be determined to overcome any possible challenges that arise.

In 2000, a shift in the responsibilities of all levels of government as a result of a decentralisation program required a new approach to monitoring and evaluation. Local levels of government were now responsible for implementing development programs which meant that the central government and people of Rwanda needed a way to ensure accountability. In 2006, Imihigo (known also as performance contracts) was introduced to address this need. Since its introduction, Imihigo has been credited with improving accountability and quickening the pace of citizen centered development activities and programs. The practice of Imihigo has been extended to ministries, embassies and public service staff. (source: rwandapedia.rw). Naturally, the overall result of this Home Grown Solution itself is tracked and traced also on a regular basis regarding its impact, viability, feasibility and sustainability.

Among others, the above creates a willingness to cooperate and work well with investors and foreign companies who would be seeking to improve the lives of Rwandans and provides a welcoming environment for doing business. When it comes to creating an extended workbench abroad for IT teams in the DACH-region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), time proximity and language skills, in particular english, are mandatory. Here Rwanda is ticking both boxes and is automatically adding value when it comes to the question which country to consider when thinking about the next IT outsourcing destination:

  • Rwanda is located favourably in terms of time zone at UTC +2, so during Summer exactly like Central European Time, in Winter just one hour ahead.
  • In 2008, the education system was switched entirely from French to English and nearly all professionals are now proficient in English, with French spoken usually fluently as well, because of the francophone heritage.

Rwanda, the small country of a thousand hills, is a pioneer and the scene of a unique digital transformation. New development emerge, also because old technologies and vested interests are not in their way. If you want to experience to vibrant eco-system by yourself - Code of Africa is congenial partner of NextAfrica (powered by Ecotec GmbH), bringing together purpose-driven organizations from Africa and Europe to collaborate and co-create: The next Learning Journey Digital Rwanda will be happening in May 2021, for more info please check Learning-Journey-Digital-Rwanda.

#ITOutsourcing #TimeProximity #CulturalProximity #Rwanda #Kigali #EastAfrica

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