The Rwanda government has made the first steps to the goal of ‘Internet everywhere.’
Now known for various firsts in East Africa, Kigali is ‘working smart’ by partnering with telecoms operators and hotels to provide free wireless Internet connectivity in public places to grow business and improve communication.
“Broadband is there to fast-track business, information exchange, information generation and consumption; it’s a foundation of a knowledge economy. I expect this to accelerate our move from agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based economy,” said Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the minister for Youth and ICT on the ‘Smart Kigali’ initiative launched last month.
The free broadband Wi-Fi Internet will be available at commercial buildings, bus stations, airports, and on public transport buses and cabs.
The first phase will cover Union Trade Centre, Kigali City Tower, Kigali City Market, MTN Centre, Nyabugogo Bus Park, Remera-Kisementi, Stade Amahoro, and Kigali Public Library.
Other places are Kanombe International Airport, KBC, Kacyiru Ministere, KIST and KIE. Internet connectivity at these sites will be powered by BSC Ltd, MTN Rwanda, Tigo Rwanda Ltd, Airtel, Liquid Telecom and ISPA.
There are automated taxi meters in some cabs that show fares to protect both drivers and passengers from exploitation and conflicts. Rwanda has also enhanced Electronic Payments Systems to promote efficient use of ATMs and others to facilitate e-transactions.
In Kenya, Safaricom, Google and Wananchi Group are some of the telcos turning to public service vehicles and entertainment joints targeting youths with wireless Internet.
Safaricom is targeting the matatu industry with its product dubbed Vuma while Google, in partnership with Wananchi Group, are focusing on restaurants.
Unlike the Wananchi and Google Wi-Fi Internet connection ‘Wazi,’ Safaricom does not charge. ‘Wazi’ has payment options like mobile money, credit, and debit cards. There is a daily pass of Sh50 and a monthly service that costs Sh500.
‘Wazi’ users get a free 10-minute test option that allows connection to a single device daily before choosing to buy the service.
Safaricom’s Vuma is free of charge for commuters while PSV operators get discounted bundles.