27 January 2013

Rwanda: Ministry Releases the ICT Sector Profile 2012

The ministry of youth and ICT on Friday released the first ever ICT Sector Profile which shows how the sector has been performing in the past year. "Our intention is to make it an annual report that will be much more important, much bigger and much comprehensive. We want to make it a national report," said Minister Jean-Philbert Nsengimana.

The report was prepared by the ministry in collaboration with the ICT department of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Agency (RURA) and the National Institute of Statistics (NISR). It also includes data from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the department of economic and social affairs of the United Nations Population Division.

The year 2012 has been characterized by the following achievements:

Telecommunications Sector

Airtel, the third licensed mobile telecommunications company in Rwanda, launched its mobile services in March 2012.

The number of active mobile subscribers has increased to 53.1%, up from 41.5 % in 2011. This is mainly due to the increased competition between telecom operators, who offer access to data and voice services.

The purchase of Bulk Internet bandwidth from Uganda and Tanzania through the World Bank/RCIP project, which allowed and additional 2.4 Gbps to be provisioned, increased the available Internet bandwidth to 3.5 Gbps for Rwanda. As a result, the Internet wholesale bandwidth costs were slashed by about 75% (from prices ranging between US$ 500 and 700 to US$ 125 for day hours and US$ 60 during the night). Rwanda was subsequently ranked as the country with fastest Internet connectivity speed in Africa number (Ookla's NetIndex).

The National Data Center was made operational, with a new cloud computing platform installed to centrally host public and private sector applications and services. This positions Rwanda among the very few countries on the continent with a highly available, resilient and robust data center infrastructure, and will allow to offer very stable online services.

Broadband Systems Corporation (BSC), a company that was incorporated to commercialize the National Fiber Optic Backbone, the Kigali metropolitan Network and the National Data Center, was launched in May 2012. BSC is already offering data services to government institutions and selling excess capacity to telecom operators are a cheaper market costs.

Financial Sector

Several new Government to Business (G2B) and Government to Citizens (G2C) services were launched, including: Online Tax Payment System, allowing citizens to file personal taxes online; ePayment System, which allows citizens to pay their taxes online through their banks, hence reducing queues and time; and Single Electronic Window System, a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements, hence reducing the cost of doing business due to online clearance and allowing simplified procedures.

Education Sector

The Carnegie Mellon University facility at Telecom House was rehabilitated and its campus was launched in August 2012. The first intake of students for the 2012-2013 academic year of the Masters Program has a total of 24 students.

kLab, a tech community hub, was established as the first ever "ICT Innovation Center" in the country and made operational in July 2012. kLab brings together tech entrepreneurs and gives them the resources they need to explore their ideas, learn from each other, and develop innovative ICT solutions.

The distribution of OLPCs (one laptop per child) reached 115,816 units, covering 227 schools. Digital content was also deployed in these schools, allowing primary school students to access courses in a digital format and improving quality of education.

Health Sector

The percentage of health facilities with functional infrastructure (computers with Internet access) reached 84%. This allows the health facilities to access health information systems and medical records systems and provide better and timely reporting.

Governance Sector

The Document Tracking system was deployed in 25 institutions (including almost all ministries) and is currently being deployed for 40 additional institutions (that includes all provinces & districts).

The Automated Passenger Clearance System, a system that supports the automation of the migration services rendered at borders and airports. Using biometric data, the system removes the need for human input and passport stamps, reduces the migration clearance processing time, eliminates risks of fraud and detects use of illegal and forged documents.

A total of 7 institutions are now connected to the National Identification Authority Database using online secure authentication, namely Traffic Police, RRA, MTN, TIGO, AIRTEL, BNR/Credit Reference Bureau, and the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration. Through this secure access, these institutions are able to provide better and quicker services.

Agriculture Sector

The eSoko system usage has increased, empowering more farmers with timely crop market price information, reaching for more than 54,000 transactions, translating to more informed market pricing decisions and ultimately more successful farming.

The Fertilizer Voucher Management System has issued more than 800,000 fertilization vouchers, allowing 2.4 million farmers to benefit from the fertilizers distribution countrywide.

Minister Nsengimana also noted that there are some key challenges that still need to be addressed. For instance, there's still a rural-urban gap when it comes to ICT awareness.

"Statistics show that citizens living in rural areas have a limited ownership of ICT devices, be it for computers, smartphones and TVs. This partially affects broadband uptake in the country," he said. "In addition, those citizens have a very limited awareness of how ICT can improve their productivity and socio-economic welfare."

The full Rwanda ICT Profile 2012 is available online.

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