Rwanda economy: Quick View – Free Wi-Fi access to be rolled out across Rwanda

Event

Public Wi-Fi hotspots are now in operation in the capital, Kigali, the first step of a major programme to roll out wireless Internet access across the country and increase the use of mobile and information and communications technology (ICT) services more generally.

Analysis

The new service aims to provide free wireless Internet access in public hubs across the country, including markets, bus stations, schools and public buildings. Hotspots have been up and running in Kigali since mid October in major shopping malls, the airport, the public library, the main stadium and government buildings including ministries, schools and hospital. The Wi-Fi programme is part of a broader government agenda to increase access to and use of technology. There are initiatives across sectors, operated by both public and private providers. Earlier this year, the government signed a contract with South Korea’s KT to provide 4G network access across 95% of Rwanda.

Moreover, Mobile Money allows customers of South African-owned MTN’s mobile network to deposit, send and withdraw money, and to buy phone and electricity credit via their mobile phones. Government-backed Esoko is an agricultural market price information system that farmers and buyers access via mobile text messages, and there are plans to set up a farmer-focused electronic payments network. Earlier this month the Rwanda Revenue Authority launched M Declaration, which allows taxpayers to declare and pay their taxes through an online and mobile application. The government hopes that these and other innovations will allow Rwanda to compensate for gaps in hard infrastructure to improve market efficiency, and encourage investment in the nascent local service sector.

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