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About Geospatial Technologies at the University of Rwanda

Application of science, technology and innovation, including the recent advances in artificial intelligence (especially Artificial Geospatial Intelligence), machine learning, and computer vision, are globally recognized as key drivers of national and international socio-economic transformations. Over the past two decades, the development of infrastructure for communication and ICT-enabled development strategies have played a major role in the proliferation of use of science and information technologies in decision making in Rwanda. In 2005, the Rwandan Cabinet approved the National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation to start an actionable plan towards a knowledge-based economy. With a national priority to become a technology hub, a number of strategic plans have been established, notably the National ICT Strategy and Plan - NICI (2015), Smart Rwanda Master Plan (2020),Rwanda Economy Digitalisation Programme (2020), the Rwanda’s Vision 2050 (2021), the National Broadband Policy and Strategy (2022), the National Artificial Intelligence Policy (2023), Space Policy (2023), among others. These plans consist of key fostering tools to harness local innovation and promote scientific research through numerous initiatives such as the Kigali Innovation City project, establishment of regional Centres of Excellence and the World Bank African Centres of Excellence (ACEII) in different areas of science and technology, the establishment of the East Africa Centre for Fundamental Research (EAIFR) as a partner institute of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences – Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI), among others.

In the field of Geospatial Technologies, and cross-cutting technologies especially artificial intelligence with special emphasis on machine learning and computer vision, the availability and reliability of spatial data, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools and techniques, automation of tasks especially in private sector, continue to support the quality and efficiency of policy decisions aimed at addressing developmental challenges. The impact has gone beyond the country, and Rwanda is becoming a Geo-ICT hub for the whole central and East African countries. This falls in line with the Rwanda’s vision 2050, where “in the next 3 decades, the country will make long-term investments in future endowments: enhanced human capabilities, strong innovation and technological capabilities, socioeconomically integrated forms of urbanization, and effective and accountable institutions of governance”. In 2001, the Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing Training and Research Centre of University of Rwanda (CGIS-UR) was established to equip the labor force with GIS skills through teaching and professional trainings. Since then, the institution has rapidly grown into a well-known competent Centre to support several governmental and non-governmental institutions to create GIS units and apply the technology to achieve their commitments. Recently, in April 2021, Rwanda Space Agency (RSA) was established with the mission to develop Rwanda’s space sector towards socio-economic development, using space- based technologies and applications”. In their collaboration, the 2 institutions are growing their expertise and empowering national and regional development goals and vision, working on several applied research projects in collaboration with other local and international organizations. Both the institutions will continue to promote and build capacity in geospatial technology locally and regionally, to serve as a source for long-term solutions to issues related to environment and natural resources management, urban and regional planning towards achieving economic transformation and sustainable development.

The 10th edition of the Digital Earth Summit will take place from 19th to 22nd November 2024 at Kigali Convention and Exhibition Village (KCEV), Kigali, Rwanda, and we expect to host around 600 researchers and practitioners in different areas related to digital earth from different regions of the world. In addition, we expect to attract more than 30 international companies which will come to exhibit their products in the area of geospatial technology.