It was a great experience at Mindspeak Kigali and the climax of it all came in engaging with the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. I sought his opinion on one issue in social media and also the other on gender but for the sake of this post I will only dwell on ICT. President Kagame have strong belief in social media especially its power to flatten the world and allow for the common man to reach those at the top of the pyramid.

Some of the key take from the Kagame are;

  • Kagame has the opinion that democracy should be allowed even on social media. The same people who accuse you of dictatorship will not allow you to engage you freely with them or others on social media.
  • President Kagame believes that social media has flattened the world and gives the citizens power to engage with their leaders and mentors in the society.
  • President Kagame is a staunch user of iPad and Blackberry with iPad2 and BlackBerry torch being his current gadgets though he wants to acquire an iPhone 4.
  • It is out of the nudging of his daughter and his IT aide that he joined Twitter and Facebook though he believes that Facebook is much more intrusive and so he prefers to use Twitter. His first Twitter account was opened by his children.
  • He believes that ICT should be given good focus and that is why the Ministry of ICT is under the Office of the President in Rwanda.
  • President Kagame is also the co-chair of the UN Broadband Commision spearheaded by ITU. He co-chairs with UN Secretary General.
  • The President believes that nobody should police social media and it should be left to the individuals to manage it at their level. The President manages social media at his level and so his negative experience online has not affected his determination to engage online.
President Kagame also loves new age music like from Black-Eyed Peas and Damian Marley. Driving through Kigali you would see the CCTV cameras on almost every road. You would also notice that most of the young workers use BlackBerry as the smartphone of choice.
The main problem I had in Rwanda is the slow internet connection. Internet connection in cyber cafes is cheap enough with most of the per minute rates in the range of Ksh 0.50.
What do you think about Paul Kagame and his views on Social Media? Leave your comments below.