from PHYLLIS BIRORI in Kigali, Rwanda
KIGALI, (CAJ News) – RWANDA has distributed thousands of smartphones with 4G capability to citizens in an effort to bridge the digital divide.
This rollout of the subsidised devices is a huge step by the ambitious East African country to close disparities.
The latest phase of the distribution of smartphones under the Connect Rwanda 2.0 blueprint has been launched, with some 2 000 Airtel-branded Imagine 4G units distributed in the southern district of Nyanza.
An initiative of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Innovation, the blueprint has received support from Airtel Rwanda, the latter which has set a target of distributing 1 million smartphones among citizens.
“These smartphones will change the lives of families. They will change the lives of all Rwandans,” Gordon Kalema, Director General at the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, said in Nyanza. He noted that through Connect Rwanda 2.0, the government of President Paul Kagame had introduced digital ambassadors for nationwide digital literacy training.
“Active citizen participation is encouraged,” Kalema said.
Also speaking at the event in Nyanza, Airtel Rwanda Chief Commercial Officer, Indrajeet Singh pledged the mobile operator’s commitment to the success of the Connect Rwanda 2.0.
Airtel Rwanda and the ICT Ministry launched the smartphone distribution exercise in October, with the distribution of 2 000 smartphones in the western Nyamasheke district.
Over 1 500 smartphones have also been distributed in the district of Kayonza in the east. The government, which has a target of having all public agencies digitizing their activities by 2014, also has set a goal to have all subscribers in the East African country of 14 million people to have access to a 4G-enabled phone.
Offered at RWF10 000 (US$8) under the partnership with the ICT and Innovation ministry, Airtel Rwanda has hailed the Imagine 4G as the most affordable smartphone in that category in the country. The cost is half the recommended retail price.
– CAJ News