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Millicom’s “Think” to foster Innovation

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Multinational telecommunications and media Company Millicom on March 31st in Kigali launched the first ever private sector initiated incubation program, Think, to facilitate Information and Communications technology innovations.

Headquartered in Rwanda, Think targets to fast track innovations from Rwanda and Africa at large with emphasis on solution oriented creativity which is seen as key in addressing the continent’s vast challenges while similarly putting to use the milliard opportunities available.

Breaking down the amenities available at Think, the General Manager of Tigo Rwanda the local subsidiary of Millicom international, Tongai Maramba listed modern office space, Hardware and Software facilities, in addition to allowing would-be entrepreneurs access to Tigo’s technology for product testing among others.

With Think in operation, Millicom targets to develop an innovative system, promote entrepreneurship especially tech-enterprising, realizing the creation of new products and technologies in Rwanda and Africa, in addition to stimulating job creation.

“We want to play a key role in unearthing local talents from Rwanda and Africa in general especially in realizing technology innovations that respond to the numerous challenges that the continent faces,” Maramba offered.

Also in attendance at the launching event in Kigali was President and CEO of Millicom International, Hans Holger Albrechnt, who applauded Rwanda’s efforts in creating a healthy environment for innovation.

“We are glad to have finally opened Think in Rwanda. This country is a great place to do business and is continuously positioning itself as a fantastic innovation hub for Africa. We intend to tap into the abundant skills and ingenuity of this nation and continent in order to bring them to commercial fruition,” the Millicom boss who was in Rwanda for his third time noted.

In building up local knowledge with the intent of yielding increased technology innovation, projects that will find their way into Think will benefit from six months of incubation followed by three more in acceleration program.

Also, Think presents an opportunity for financing technology innovation in Africa with proposed seed financing from Millicom of between USD25,000 to $75,000 basing on the project’s business plan. Think is a million dollar worth fund which is also open to contributions from other well-wishers.

With effect from April 1st, www.think.rw is open for all to express their interest into joining, and this will later be followed by a selection process.
Alongside the benefits that Think presents for the future of innovation in Rwanda and Africa, Rwanda’s Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana noted that being a private sector led initiative makes it better than any other similar initiatives witnessed before.

“Millicom has wide knowledge in the area of innovations in ICTs and the required platform to facilitate entrepreneurship in this area. This is what makes Think stand out; that our people will have the opportunity to learn from international best performers who understand market needs and how to satisfy them so as to make ideas profitable.”

ICT enthusiasts already entrepreneurs commended the initiative arguing that it has the ability to turnaround innovativeness on the continent.
Konde Bugingo, the CEO of Rswitch who was present at the event said, “ICTs have the power to transform lives in Rwanda, Africa and the world in general but this is only possible if ideas are developed to yield projects viable in the marketplace, something Think is best positioned to deliver.”
Through its local operative, Tigo Rwanda, Millicom has been a master of firsts in the Rwandan telecommunication market.

For instance, mid last year, Tigo launched Rwanda’s first ever Automatic Teller Machine, Tigomatic to facilitate 24hour service on its mobile money platform Tigo cash in addition to allowing self service for many on many of its products.

Earlier in February of this year, the Telecom Company initiated the world’s first ever cross border mobile money platform enabling transactions between Rwanda and Tanzania.

Like Hon. Nsengimana said, now Now the “ball” is up for Rwandan innovators to make use of facilities offered by Think, to nurture their skills and yield forth platforms that will boost individual and national growth and development.

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