Cross-border Traders Work with UNDP to Adopt Digital Solutions

By Stella Tushabe

November 10, 2022

Iyakaremye Gaudence smiles with joy after receiving a smart phone to improve her business

Constantin Uwase

Rubavu, 07/Nov/2022 – UNDP Rwanda, in partnership with the Ministry of ICT, Rwanda National Police, Ministry of Trade, and Rwanda ICT Chamber, distributed digital tools to cross-border trade cooperatives in Rubavu following a two-week long training on digital financial skills which will help them to leverage on digital public goods while carrying out their trade activities.

Nine cooperatives with a total of 205 members, predominantly female, received training to amplify their digital and financial skills to expand their businesses. In addition, the trainees received nine laptops and 150 smartphones to increase the use of digital tools and marketing platforms to enhance cooperatives’ access to a larger market in cross-border areas and beyond.

 UNDP’s digital strategy is built on a solid pillar focusing on creating environments and systems that drive and support innovation. Therefore, efforts must be made to address the accessibility and affordability of digital services to increase opportunities for everyone. UNDP is pleased to work with various partners, including the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, to accelerate digital inclusion while enabling a conducive environment for adopting digital public goods. 

 We are pleased to be part of this journey to increase the contribution of ICT to development. Therefore, UNDP and its partners engaged forty-three leaders from nine cross-border cooperatives in the Rubavu district in a fortnight of the digital skill training session. The training aimed to equip the participants, predominantly female cross-border traders, to accelerate digital inclusion while enabling the environment for digital public good adoption.

Several participants attested that this was their first time to touch, let alone receive digital tools such as smartphones and laptops. The devices will improve their experience in pitching business ideas, managing clientele, enhancing customer communication, and many more. The laptops and phones are also expected to enable enhanced trade, social commerce, marketing skills, and digital finance management. 

 “Digital public goods enable inclusive digital ecosystems and hence empower Rwanda to be a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, “said Maurice Rwamigabo, Head of Exploration at the UNDP Accelerator Labs. 

“Meaningful digital transformation is the one that brings actors across sectors, perspectives, and discipline to draw from experience and exploit the digital public goods to advance development,” he added.

 The Guest of Honor, Esther Kunda, the Director General of Innovation and Emerging Technologies at the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, thanked the trainees for participating in the training and assured them of a continued partnership for better results.  

 “I encourage you to adapt technology in your daily activities and continue learning because it will make your cross-border experience richer and easier,” she said. Esther Kunda also commended UNDP’s work towards boosting an inclusive digital transformation in Rwanda.

In addition to accelerating digital solution adoption, the training was organized as part of peace-building activities to minimize illegal cross-border trading in the Rubavu district. The overjoyed trainees shared their experiences and expectations for the digital skill training. Read about their testimonies:

“I learned a lot from this training. Before the training, I had never used a computer, but thanks to the training, I can now switch it on and navigate different programs, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. I wish to be part of other training sessions so we can master what we learned.”- Niyonzima Patrick, a Trainee. 

 “When I came for the training, I didn’t know that I could start my own business, but I realized that it was possible and the easy way to do it is to get products at a lower price and sell at a higher price, then the margin is the profit. I also learned to write using computers and telephone to market our products.”- Mukashema Laurence.

The trainees petitioned that the Government of Rwanda and its partners continue the digital training to reach more interested parties. Bringing the ICT services closer would improve the literacy level of the younger generation.