n Mousaion - Becoming an information and knowledge society : Rwanda and the Village Phone project

Volume 31, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



Many countries around the world have visions or dreams of becoming information and knowledge societies. These countries wish to benefit from the many advantages that such societies offer, including improved communication, better education and the reduction of poverty, to mention but a few. However, many countries and communities around the world (especially in Africa) are not part of the information and knowledge society yet, due to barriers such as the digital divide (Holmner 2008). Authors such as Webster (2002), Britz et al (2006) and Holmner (2008) have identified criteria that define an information and knowledge society. These criteria address economic, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure, physical infrastructure, and social and human intellectual capacity aspects. Based on these criteria, it is clear that Rwanda, which forms the subject of this study, is not yet an information and knowledge society. This article presents facts on how mobile phone technology such as the Village Phone (VP) can help Rwanda become an information and knowledge society. Qualitative research methods were applied in the form of a literature review and semi-structured interviews which were conducted with the VP users in five Rwandan districts. The results of the study showed that while the adoption of the VP may assist Rwanda to adhere to some criteria of the information and knowledge society (namely the economic and the ICT infrastructure criteria), while slightly assisting adherence to the social criterion, adoption of the VP is not assisting Rwanda to adhere to the physical infrastructure and human intellectual capacity criteria at all. The study further found that if the VP were used in a different manner it could meet more of the required criteria to help Rwanda become an information and knowledge society.

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