The Ministry of ICT and Innovation (MINICT) in partnership with MTN Rwandacell PLC (MTN Rwanda) has continued the distribution of smartphones under the #ConnectRwanda initiative.
From November 15 to December 3, 2021 MINICT with MTN Rwanda will be distributing one smartphone to one household per village amounting to a total of 16,250 smartphones across all thirty districts in the country.
This has commenced with Gicumbi, Bugesera, Gatsibo, Nyabihu, Ngororero, Gisagara and Huye districts.
“Distributing one smartphone to one household in every village across the country in partnership with MINICT, brings us a step closer to achieving our ambitious goal of closing the digital divide in Rwanda. We are happy to see more pledges coming in, which goes to show that what started out as an idea has now grown into a movement.”Mitwa Ng’ambi, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Rwanda
“I would like to thank all our partners that have journeyed with us thus far. We will continue with #ConnectRwanda 2.0, through which we will be collaborating with different players in the ICT sector, financing institutions and other device retailers and distributors to introduce sustainable financing models that will facilitate citizens to acquire smartphones.”Hon. Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation, Rwanda
#ConnectRwanda phase 1 was launched in December, 2019 by MINICT in partnership with MTN Rwanda to create awareness across the country regarding the importance of smartphone ownership, and curated a pledge program that saw a national multi-industry participation where over 44,000 smartphones were pledged and 24,973 were honoured. Out of these, 7,670 have been distributed to date.
Smartphones are playing a key role in covid-19 response in Rwanda; providing easy access to information of the pandemic, dissemination of directives and Covid-19 guidelines, among others.
Since inception, the program has majorly focused on different segments of the population; the unconnected, female farmers, Persons with disabilities, individuals in category 1 and 2 of ubudehe, and remote dwellers among others.
In Rwanda smartphone ownership has been majorly hindered by device and internet costs on the local market. Therefore, to enable consumers, devices were powered with internet through working with Telecommunication companies to provide sufficient internet bundles. And #ConnectRwanda 2.0 will focus on sustainable device financing models.
Additionally, to address digital skills gap, the recipients are equipped with basic digital skills to utilize the smart phones and benefit from digital service through the Digital Ambassadors program. This effort also only succeeds with relevant useful content to the citizens, and as such, a number of Apps relevant to the different target groups such as healthcare workers were identified and pre-loaded on these devices, for efficient service access.