Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 1: keine Armut. Menschen halten sich an den Händen.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 10: Weniger Ungleichheiten. Ein = Zeichen mit Pfeilen nach oben, unten, links und rechts.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 11: Nachhaltige Städte und Gemeinden. Mehrere Gebäude.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 12: Nachhaltiger Konsum und Produktion. Ein Unendlichkeitssymbol.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 13: Maßnahmen zum Klimaschutz. Ein Auge, dessen Pupille eine Weltkugel ist.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 14: Leben unter Wasser. Ein Fisch schwimmt unter Wellen.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 15: Leben an Land. Ein Baum und Vögel.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 16: Frieden, Gerechtigkeit und starke Institutionen. Eine Taube und ein Richterhammer.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 17: Partnerschaften zur Erreichung der Ziele. Sich überlappende Kreise.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 2: Kein Hunger. Aus einer Schüssel steigt Dampf auf.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 3: Gesundheit und Wohlergehen. Linie eines EKGs, die in einem Herz endet.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 4: Hochwertige Bildung. Ein aufgeschlagenes Buch und ein Stift.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 5: Geschlechtergleichheit. Eine Kombination aus den Symbolen für Männlichkeit und Weiblichkeit, mit einem = Zeichen in der Mitte.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 6: Sauberes Wasser und Sanitäreinrichtungen. Ein mit Wasser gefülltes Glas.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 7: Bezahlbare und saubere Energie. Eine Sonne mit einem An-/Aus-Zeichen in der Mitte.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 8: Menschenwürdige Arbeit und Wirtschaftswachstum. Ein Balkendiagramm mit Pfeil nach oben.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 9: Industrie, Innovation und Infrastruktur. Mehrere verschachtelte Würfel. Artboard 1

From chatbots and start-ups to smart rubbish bins

GIZ supports governments and societies worldwide in their digital transformation. In Rwanda, many digitalisation projects are working together closely and making development cooperation future-proof through innovations and digital solutions. Digitalisation there has become a key driver of development for the economy, government and society.

‘In the past, I only ever used my mobile phone to make calls,’ explains Silvia Dushimirimana, a farmer in northern Rwanda. ‘Now I can use it to make mobile payments, repay loans and settle invoices.’ Silvia has four fields where she grows maize and beans and contributes substantially to the cost of maintaining her family of four. She learned how digital applications can support her in her day-to-day life and work through training provided by GIZ and the non-governmental organisation One Acre Fund.

Rwanda’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture. Around 70 per cent of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, with many people working as smallholders. With the Rwandan population growing steadily, increasing the country’s food production is a real challenge. At the same time, exports of tea and coffee are becoming more important. The country is therefore working hard to increase farmers’ yields. Digitalisation plays a key role here.

Foto: Zwei Frauen stehen in einer ländlichen Gegend.
Sylvia Dushimirimana (left) with Solange Kwizera, a member of the project team at our partner organisation One Acre Fund
© Kabera Kabira

In the training courses, farmers learn about the added value that digitalisation can offer them and how to use common technologies and devices such as mobile phones, tablets, text messages and USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data). USSD is short sequences of asterisks, hash symbols and numerical codes used in mobile networks. Typing these into a mobile phone enables farmers to find information or access services such as payment functions – without Internet access. This communication standard is widely used in countries in the Global South in particular. Indeed, in Rwanda alone, nearly 70 per cent of people have no internet access.

More than 105,800

farmers in Rwanda have already received training in the use of digital applications.

Portrait photo: Theophile Cyiza

»We showed the farmers how USSD works and what they can do with it. We also offered them practical training on how to use their own devices, mostly mobile phones and tablets. This allowed us to resolve any concerns and develop specific skills.«

Theophile Cyiza, Head of Project Implementation at One Acre Fund
© Kabera Kabira

Better informed thanks to a chatbot

In the future, farmers in Rwanda will also be able to use USSD to communicate with a chatbot that provides reliable information on the weather. This will make everyday life much easier for them, as they depend heavily on rainfall. There are very few irrigation systems in Rwanda and, up to now, many farmers have had no access to weather forecasts. This has made it difficult to grow food efficiently.

Thanks to the chatbot that GIZ is developing together with the Rwandan Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Innovation and other partners, farmers in Rwanda will soon know when to plant, fertilise and harvest. The chatbot will also be able to warn them of impending pest infestations. Having completed the training, the farmers already know how the chatbot works and how to use it. The higher yields will generate more income and contribute to improving food security for Rwanda’s growing population.

Foto: Zwei Männer stehen sich gegenüber. Der Mann links trägt eine VR-Brille.
Rwanda is prioritising digitalisation to make the country fit for the future.
© GIZ

Digitalisation as a driver of development

Progress in a country’s digital transformation not only has a direct and positive impact on individual sectors, but in many cases also contributes to the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals. For example, digital technology can enable access to education and training, promote economic growth or, as we are seeing in Rwanda, increase harvests and improve food supply.

Rwanda is a true trailblazer when it comes to digitalisation in Africa. Promoting digital skills is just one part of the country’s comprehensive digitalisation strategy. Government bodies are committing a great deal of time, energy and money to the digital transformation, with the aim of making Rwanda a prosperous, knowledge-based, industrialised and sustainable nation by 2050. In 2023, the country was one of the first in Africa to adopt a national strategy for the responsible and inclusive use of artificial intelligence – with support from GIZ.

Portrait photo: Paula Ingabire

»We have been able to achieve a lot in our country’s digital transformation through partnerships.«

Paula Ingabire, Rwandan Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation
© Arsene Mugabo
Link zum Vorstandsvideo
In this video, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, Chair of the GIZ Management Board, and Paula Ingabire, Rwandan Minister of ICT and Innovation, talk about the role of partnerships in international cooperation.

Holistic approach to accelerate progress

GIZ is currently implementing numerous digitalisation projects in Rwanda. Together, the individual projects form a holistic approach and generate results that build on each other. The closely interlinked projects are a good example of how development cooperation can be made future-proof. They actively promote equitable and value-based digital transformation in Rwanda and therefore enable more efficient government, a sustainable economy and better services for citizens. In cooperation with government bodies, the private sector and civil society, they create structures and develop digital tools, making everyday life easier for Rwandans.

Foto: Futuristisch anmutendes Büro mit runden roten Sitzecken und einem großen Bildschirm.
The various projects to promote digital transformation in Rwanda are brought together under one roof at the Digital Transformation Center in Kigali.
© GIZ
Foto: Fünf Menschen unterhalten sich in einem Büro.
© Digital Transformation Center Rwanda

Learn more about the Digital Transformation Center in Rwanda and the various projects:

Find out more

The central hub is the Digital Transformation Center in Kigali, where many projects are housed under one roof. This facilitates collaboration in both theory and practice. Here, GIZ experts, partners and commissioning parties join forces to drive forward the country’s digital transformation. Some support digital start-ups, bringing them to the table with potential customers. Others work with the City of Kigali to develop rubbish bins that report their fill levels to waste companies in real time. This type of intelligent waste collection management protects the environment and saves time for sanitation workers, who no longer have to collect rubbish dumped next to overflowing bins. All of the projects have one thing in common: with their digital approaches, they facilitate results that benefit a large number of people in Rwanda in a short space of time.

Foto: Vier Personen mit Laptops sitzen an einem Tisch.
GIZ supports digital start-ups in Rwanda working in the areas of agriculture, training and smart cities in building their own networks and improving their products in collaboration with future customers.
© GIZ
GIZ supports Rwanda’s digital transformation in the following ways:
  • Digital transformation of the public sector
    Aim: To improve public services and increase the efficiency of public authorities
  • Support for green start-ups
    Aim: To provide training, advice and networking opportunities for start-ups
  • Artificial intelligence
    Aim: To develop products and general conditions for the ethical use of AI
  • Digital inclusion and digital knowledge
    Aim: To develop digital skills and promote the use of digital solutions

Paving the way for future applications

The close integration of projects in Rwanda helps to generate synergies and ensure that measures are well coordinated and interlinked. The chatbot for farmers is a good example of this. This innovative solution builds on Mbaza, a chatbot developed in Rwanda by GIZ in collaboration with partners from the public and private sectors and charitable organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic that, with over 14 million enquiries, has been a real success story. Mbaza gave the entire population of Rwanda access to reliable information not only in English and French, but also in the third official language, Kinyarwanda. It contained up-to-date information on incidence rates and vaccinations, COVID-19 symptoms, recommended behaviour in the event of a positive test, applicable restrictions, test results, certificates and much more.

3.5 million

people used the Mbaza chatbot to obtain information, test results or vaccination certificates during the pandemic.

Foto: Ein Mann steht neben einem Bildschirm und erklärt etwas. Mehrere Personen hören zu.
© GIZ

When developing Mbaza, GIZ worked with the Mozilla Foundation to create an open Kinyarwanda dataset for voice interaction, which now serves as a basis for the training of further AI models in the country and, in future, can also be used as the basis for programming additional Bantu voice models. The framework for this is provided by the national AI strategy, which was also developed at the policy level with support from GIZ. Building on this, further potential uses for the chatbot are currently being tested in Rwanda. It is already up and running in the agriculture sector, and there are plans to enable citizen participation via a chatbot in the future, allowing citizens to contact all levels of government. Once again, access and use will be made as simple as possible – so that everyone benefits and to ensure an equitable and responsible digital transformation.

Portrait photo: Audace Niyonkuru

»The availability of different AI models in open source is a great advantage for anyone who wants to work in Kinyarwanda or other African languages because now there is an infrastructure on which they can build. The fruits of this will be seen in the coming months and years in the form of innovations on the African continent.«

Audace Niyonkuru, CEO of Digital Umuganda
The start-up developed the chatbot Mbaza together with GIZ.
© Jan Zappner / re:publica
Related Links:
Learn more about the projects here: