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Rwanda's Kagame says public-private partnerships key to lasting innovation

Rwanda's Kagame says public-private partnerships key to lasting innovation

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has cited his government's partnerships with the private sector - particularly in drone technology - as an example of how African businesses and governments can collaborate to produce lasting solutions for the continent's people.

During his opening presentation at the Africa Business and Investment Forum in Addis Ababa this week, Kagame called for the private sector's help adding that the use of drones in healthcare across Rwanda is a good example of the potential of public-private partnerships.

"We (in Rwanda) are also partnering with an American company, Zipline, to pioneer the use of drone aircraft to deliver blood and other medical supplies to rural areas. There is much more we can do when we cooperate, and this conference may generate innovative ideas which we can take forward."

Kagame added that partnerships have saved the public sector a lot of money and helped to improve low productivity, especially in healthcare.

"A report from the International Finance Corporation a few years ago found that the majority of health services consumed in Africa are already supplied privately. This doesn't necessarily mean we should privatise our healthcare systems, but rather find ways to improve quality and access to healthcare."

While Zipline and the government of Rwanda launched the world's first national drone delivery service to make on-demand emergency blood deliveries in 2016, in August 2017 Zipline added Tanzania to the countries where its drone delivery service of critical and life-saving medicines is available.

At the launch of the project in Tanzania, Laurean Bwanakunu, Director General of Tanzania Medical Stores Department said the country aimed to ensure that all 5,640 public health facilities in the country have all the essential medicines, medical supplies and laboratory reagents they need, wherever they are—even in the most the hard to reach areas.

"But that mission can be a challenge during emergencies, times of unexpected demand, bad weather, or for small but critical orders. Using drones for just-in-time deliveries will allow us to provide health facilities with complete access to vital medical products no matter the circumstance."

Kagame's push for more public-private partnerships comes days after the UN Broadband Commission, which he co-chairs, announced its targets to bring the world's 3.8 billion people who are not online, onto the internet by 2025.

The 2025 targets seek to expand global broadband infrastructure and internet access to support sustainable development goals.

Among its targets is to ensure that entry-level broadband services are made affordable in developing countries, at less than 2% of monthly gross national income per capita, a decision that has been lauded by internet advocacy group Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI).

"The move to adopt the '1 for 2' target represents a massive and important step forward toward enabling affordable internet access for all," said A4AI in a statement released immediately after the UN Broadband Commission's announcement.

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