Introducing Clement Uwajeneza, our affiliate

Clement's desk in Rwanda
Photograph of my desk as I presented to the PD team for the first time. One screen shows the video call, the other my presentation.
Hello, my name’s Clement. I’ve been leading technology companies in Rwanda for the last 15 years and I recently became a Public Digital affiliate. Public Digital’s international development work has grown and to reflect this, so has the team of locally based affiliates. Emily and Claire from PD are based in London, while I’m based in Rwanda.

Background and beliefs

I started my career as an entrepreneur when I founded AxIS, a software engineering services company back in 2005. Our goal was to help organisations in Rwanda – and throughout Africa – access business management software easily and affordably.

At the time I started AxIS, I hypothesised that by leveraging open source software, we would spend less time building technology and dedicate more time to leading the organisations through the change management process and adoption. Since then, a focus on adoption of technology has defined the work I’ve been involved in and it’s what I love to do.

Transforming public services in Rwanda 

In 2013, I got the opportunity to do that at scale, when I was tasked to lead Irembo, the team leading the digital transformation of government services in Rwanda. Irembo’s mandate was to leverage technology and make government services easily accessible to Rwandan citizens.

The country had limited internet penetration (around 30% at the time we started the work) and as a result – the population had relatively low digital literacy. Of course, public services are for everyone and the challenge was to be as inclusive and as accessible as possible. We built technologies and designed business models that would make that possible for all Rwandans to adopt Irembo.

So we:

  • put user needs first by mapping user journeys to better understand their need
  • built technologies that were available to the majority of Rwandans such as SMS and USSD. We also integrated mobile money as a way to pay for government services
  • formed a network of agents who helped citizens access devices and interact with digital services so Rwanda could ultimately close the digital literacy gap

Today, Irembo accounts for more than 80% of transactions between citizens and the government, with 300,000 Rwandans using the service monthly.

Taking the work forward

The work I did at Irembo revealed to me how well-delivered digital transformation programs can have a considerable impact. I believe that the lessons we’ve learnt in the process would be valuable to other governments in Africa as they progress in their digital transformation journeys. I want to do that alongside other digital transformation experts at Public Digital as a member of the affiliate network.

My values and Public Digital

Public Digital’s approach to digital transformation has been all about delivering the most value for the end user – this is where the team helps governments and organisations invest their time and focus. This approach aligns with mine. The Internet era ways of working idea conveys the same principles that I believe to be at the heart of delivering digital solutions that see broad adoption. The combination of my experience and knowledge of tech, digital and governments in Africa and the Public Digital team will mean we can continue to support and improve things for more people in Africa and beyond.

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