13 July 2012

Rwanda: Call for Affordable, Quality Internet

Photo: Timothy Kisambira/The New Times
Rwanda currently relies on three submarine fibre optic cable systems for it internet connection.

The government, in partnership with the ICT chamber of the private sector federation, have promised to enhance internet accessibility in the country.

The internet penetration rate, at 9 percent in the country is still low, meaning that few Rwandan citizens access broadband services.

Speaking at the Internet Governance Forum yesterday, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister of Youth and ICT said that the government was doing all it takes to ensure that every Rwandan gets access to affordable and quality internet.

"Good quality broadband services are what we want to drive this economy as we move towards a knowledge based economy," he emphasised.

He pointed out the rolling out of the Fibre Optic Cable across the country as the initiative that will trigger high speed internet which will be affordable and accessible to everyone.

Nsengimana stated that the robust ICT infrastructure like the national backbone and the data centre is going to be extended to everyone in the country using the last mile connectivity.

Citizens will also be able to use smart and non-smart phones to browse internet since they will be connected to broadband services.

Rwanda currently relies on three submarine fibre optic cable systems for internet connection such as the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), The East African Marine Systems (TEAMS) and SEACOM through local telecommunication companies and Internet Service Providers (ISP's).

The internet service providers in the country include MTN Rwanda, Tigo, Airtel, Broadband Systems Corporation, New Artel and Altech Stream.

According to Jeff Kayonga, the Vice President of the ICT Chamber in PSF, high quality internet which is accessible and affordable is every one's wish.

"We are working closely with government to ensure that Rwandan citizens access internet which is of high quality and at affordable prices," he said.

Rwanda, like many African countries, still faces the challenge of affordable internet services.

A report released by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recently indicates that affordability of broadband services still remains a key obstacle, particularly in Africa, where fixed broadband access costs on average three times monthly per capita income.

Jean Claude Mugabo, the Director of ICT at the Ministry of Local Government said that, all the districts in the country are connected to internet.

"We have started to distribute laptops to local goverment leaders at sector and cell levels. We want these leaders to have an access to broadband services," he noted.

The forum which was aired live on National TV and Radio brought together among others, ICT stakeholders, students, and the private sector.

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