COVID-19, Hot Topics

COVID-19 Update in Rwanda by Crystal Rugege

Status of the Coronavirus in the country

Rwanda had its first case of Coronavirus on March 14th. Large gatherings were no longer permitted, and schools were closed. The government requested that businesses move to remote online working if possible.

Arriving and departing commercial flights were halted on March 20th, and a full lockdown imposed on March 21st. This included:

  • Closed borders with exception of transportation of goods and cargo
  • No travelling permitted between cities and districts
  • No public transportation
  • Electronic payments and online banking highly encouraged, and fees waived for digital transactions as well as daily limits to incentivize people to use digital channels
  • The central bank extended a lending facility worth USD 53M to allow banks with liquidity challenges to borrow for the next 6 months
  • Only businesses providing essential services were permitted to be open

As it stands today, the lockdown will be active through April 19th, and then revisited based on the situation at that time.

The impact on my industry

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EDUCATION & TRAINING

As a university, we had to move all classes online and all employees are now working from home.

We were fortunate to have the right people and infrastructure in place to make this transition fairly seamlessly. We had to ensure all of our students were equipped with stable internet to continue their learning online, and have availed the necessary support to adapt to changing needs.

However, as an industry, it has revealed the inequities in the education system, in Africa and worldwide, and the magnitude of the digital divide. Many schools don’t have the capacity to provide remote instruction, and certainly not on short notice as the lockdown required. Remote instruction and online learning requires students to have access to a device and internet. For many students, this is both unaffordable and inaccessible. Students from middle to high income families, or well resourced schools, have been able to continue their learning at home, while their peers are left behind.

When normal activity resumes, the education sector will need to readjust school schedules, exam schedules, etc. to account for the varying levels of disruption at the school level as well as individual learners.

What's being done to fight COVID-19

The government has setup a fund to support the most vulnerable people affected by COVID-19 and the lockdown. Economic activity for many businesses, big and small, has come to a halt. Supply chains have been disrupted, affecting the most vulnerable members of society.
The government has been distributing food rations to the affected communities, and mobilizing support from the public and private sector. Senior members of government, from the cabinet ministers to heads of institutions, forfeited their April salary to support vulnerable communities.
In the education sector, many EdTech companies are offering their products/courses for free, so students can continue learning at home.

The Member

Crystal Rugege

Crystal Rugege

Director of Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University Africa living in Rwanda
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07, Apr, 2020