6 May 2014

Rwanda: Internet Users to Hit Three Billion

Rwanda has stepped up efforts to increase internet user penetration, an official said yesterday.

Didier Nkurikiyimfura, the Director General in charge of ICT at the Ministry of Youth and ICT, was reacting to a report released yesterday by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) indicating that 44 per cent of the world's population will have access to internet by the end of 2014.

He said Rwanda's mobile telecommunication industry has been the driving force behind the growth of internet services.

"We have worked hard to fast-track the implementation of 3G and 4G broad band internet services, and conducted awareness campaigns to make sure that the country achieves 20 per cent internet penetration, a reflection of about 2.1 million Rwandans accessing internet services. We, therefore, believe that by connecting all sectors of the economy to ICT services. We will be able to achieve the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2) by 2018," Nkurikiyimfura told The New Times.

Rwanda targets to have 95 per cent of citizens connected to internet by 2017.

According to the report, internet users could reach 3 billion by the end of 2014 with half of them coming from the developing economies.

The report also indicated that mobile broadband is also expected to register about 2.3 million while mobile-cellular subscriptions will reach 7 billion by the end of 2014, with 3.6 billion coming from the Asia-Pacific region.

Africa and Asia and the Pacific are expected to register a penetration rate of 69 per cent and 89 per cent, respectively, by the end 2014.

The report further said that more than 90 per cent of the people not using Internet are from the developing world.

In Africa, 20 per cent of the population will be online by the end of 2014, up from 10 per cent in 2010.

The increase is mostly due to growth in the developing world where mobile-cellular subscriptions account for 78 per cent of the world's total population, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré said in a statement.

"The newly released ICT figures confirm once again that information and communication technologies continue to be the key drivers of the information society," Toure said.

Aha Ahmed Hussain, the Director of fiscal and business solutions at AA UNI Rwanda Ltd, a one stop centre for IT solutions in Rwanda, said the involvement of the private sector in the industry will be a great push towards the success of the ICT industry in the country.

Sam Nkusi, the Managing Director of Liquid Telecom, said providing a platform where global ICT players can take part in Rwanda's ICT business, will boost the sector while Brahima Sanou, the Director of ITU's telecommunication department, said information and communication technology will help fast-track economic progress.

Rwanda is seeking to become an Information and Communication Technology hub in the region. Government wants to make ICT service provision a major driver of the EDPRS2 blueprint.

Recently, the government and Ngali Holdings, a local ICT firm, signed a $30 million deal to create an integrated public service platform, 'Rwanda Online' in a bid to offer government-to-business and government-to-citizen services through the Internet and mobile devices for the next 25 years.

Government has since entered into a joint venture with Korea Telecom Corporation to roll out 4GLT services across the country.

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