The New Times (Kigali)

13 October 2012

Africa: ITU Ranks Rwanda High in ICT Development

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

Rwanda has been ranked among six developing countries in the world that are most dynamic performers when it comes to ICT development.

This emerged in the latest report by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for 2012.

The annual report titled "Measuring the Information Society 2012", rank the Republic of Korea as the world's most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

The new figures released on Thursday show that ICT uptake continues to grow worldwide, spurred by a steady fall in the price of telephone and broadband internet services.

"The most dynamic performers are primarily from the developing world, and include countries from all regions," the report says.

Rwanda, Bahrain, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia are the developing nations with strong dynamic ICT markets because they are catching up quickly in efforts to bridge the so-called 'digital divide'.

For the fourth year running, the survey presents two authoritative benchmarking tools to monitor information society developments worldwide.

The ICT Development Index (IDI) ranks 155 countries' performance with regard to ICT infrastructure and uptake and ICT Price Basket (IPB) a unique metric that tracks and compares the cost and affordability of ICT services in more than 160 countries globally.

"In the mobile sector, developing countries now account for the lion's share of market growth. Mobile-cellular subscriptions registered continuous double-digit growth in developing country markets, for a global total of six billion mobile subscriptions by end 2011," it added.

Both China and India each account for around one billion subscriptions.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Youth and ICT minister said: "We are glad to be the most dynamic and are challenged to do more, and faster".

"Although we still have a long way to go, our objective is to be among the top performers globally or at least middle performers".

There are large differences between developed and developing countries, with IDI values on average twice as high in the developed world compared with developing countries.

The report identifies the group of countries with the lowest IDI levels - so-called 'Least Connected Countries' - and highlights the need for policy makers to pay keen attention to this group.

ITU's 'Measuring the Information Society report' is the most comprehensive statistical and analytical report on the shape of ICT markets worldwide.

Our reputation as a wholly impartial and reliable source of ICT market statistics makes this report the annual industry benchmark for technology development," said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré.

Two weeks ago, the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development 2012 report ranked Rwanda top in East Africa and 7th in Africa among countries with active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2011.

Rwanda has laid a 2,500-kilometre national fibre optic cable, which is expected to enhance access to various broadband services in the country and the National Data Centre.

The country 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 among others MTN Rwanda, Tigo, Airtel, Broadband Systems Corporation, New Artel, RwandaTel and Altech Stream.

The report also shows that the ICT sector has become a major contributor to economic growth. In 2010, global exports of ICT goods accounted for 12% of world merchandise trade, and as much as 20% in developing countries.

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