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Rwanda's Tech Takeoff in 2023: Soaring High and Aiming Even Higher in 2024

by Mathias Bizimana 

2023 was a year of remarkable growth for Rwanda’s tech scene. Fueled by bold investments, a forward-thinking government, improved infrastructure, and a rapidly growing pool of talent, the country surpassed expectations and cemented itself as a rising star of African innovation. The country hosted some of the biggest events on the continent and in the world, such as UNLEASH Innovation Lab, Norrsken Africa week, Mobile World Congress, African Leadership Network(ALN) gathering, 73rd FIFA Congress, Trace Awards, Women Deliver, Giants of Africa Festival, Time100 Sumit among others.

2023 saw Rwandan startups raising more funds than the combined total they raised in 2021 and 2022. According to the data from Statista, Rwandan startups raised 6.875 million and 1.914 million in 2021 and 2022, respectively. However, in 2023, Rwandan startups secured big deals. For instance, the startup Kasha alone raised $21 million in its series B funding. We also saw, for the first time, a Rwandan startup, Eden Care, being accepted into the prestigious Y Combinator Accelerator Program.  As we enter 2024, the excitement continues, with anticipation building for Rwanda’s next chapter in tech dominance.

A Closer Look at 2023: What was achieved?

More than ever, in 2023, Kigali was dubbed Africa’s Silicon Valley in the Making. The city saw the development of its urban master plan for the mixed-use innovation hub known as Kigali Innovation City, also dubbed the digital hub of Africa. Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, attracted tech giants like Volkswagen and entrepreneurial hubs like Norrisken and Westerwell Foundation. The city also saw the inauguration of major projects and partnerships in healthcare, with companies like BioNTech starting vaccine production facilities in Kigali and the inauguration of  IRCAD Africa Centre of Excellence, a training and research centre in minimally invasive surgery.

In April 2023, Rwanda became one of the few countries, if not the first, in Africa to develop a National Artificial Intelligence Policy, which was a significant step toward utilising the potential of AI for the continued progress of the Country. After developing this AI policy, the country thought of attracting major AI companies in the world to carry out AI research and development in the country, and on September 7, 2023, InstaDeep announced that it would set up an office in Kigali to develop Africa’s AI ecosystem.

Not only did we see major international companies coming to Kigali, but we also saw local startups thriving, developing groundbreaking solutions in fintech, agritech, healthcare, HR tech, and edtech. The Rwandan entrepreneurial sector attracted significant funding, injecting crucial capital for growth and R&D. This influx of resources empowered local companies to scale their operations and reach new markets. For instance, startups like Zipline and Andela experienced phenomenal growth, emerging as powerhouses on the continental stage. Their success has inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs and boosted investor confidence.

What to expect in 2024?

Looking at 2024, one can expect a surge in innovation within the financial technology sector, where inclusive mobile banking solutions and micro-insurance platforms will revolutionise access to financial services, especially for rural communities. The agriculture sector will witness a remarkable boost, with applications developed to improve productivity, optimise resource management, and facilitate market access for farmers. The healthcare we see improvement in connected Healthcare, where Telemedicine and AI-powered diagnostics will transform healthcare accessibility, particularly in remote areas. The country will continue to host major international conferences and events, attracting more investors opening up more networking opportunities to its young entrepreneurs, and solidifying the country’s private sector.

By building on the momentum of 2023 and strengthening its commitment to innovation, Rwanda is well-positioned to become a global tech leader. The country serves as a shining example of how vision, talent, and boldness can transform a nation and inspire a continent. Rwanda’s tech journey is far from over. 2024 promises to be a year of even greater strides, solidifying the country’s place as a pioneer in African and global tech advancements.

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