Rwanda scores another first in region with 4G rollout

Rwanda will soon be among the few African countries to link every corner of the country when it rolls out the first ever 4G LTE broadband network in the region.

The new technology is expected to offer high-speed Internet and make Rwanda the East African Community leader in information and communications technology.

LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a wireless broadband technology designed to support roaming Internet access via cellphones and handheld devices.

The $140 million project, to be rolled out over the next three years by the government in partnership with KT Corporation, South Korea’s biggest telecommunications provider, will see the whole country linked to a fiber optic cable.

Its launch coincides with Transform Africa, a continental ICT and innovation summit that takes place in Kigali from October 28 to 31.

Seven African presidents and more than 1,500 delegates from all over the world are expected at the summit to discuss how Africa can overcome its connectivity and ICT challenges.

The presidents who are expected to attend include Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda — who will also be in Kigali for their countries’ Infrastructure Summit on October 28.

According to Rwanda’s Minister for ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the country is today ranked among the “most connected” countries in Africa.

The 4G LTE network will be the final phase to deliver the “last mile” of connectivity after putting in place all the other infrastructures needed, including linking the whole country to the fiber optic backbone. The project will connect 95 per cent of Rwandans.

“Six years ago, African leaders met in Kigali for the connect Africa summit to find means of addressing the digital divide the continent was facing. At the time, only five per cent of the population had mobiles but today 65 per cent of Rwandans own mobile phones,” Mr Nsengimana said.

Connecting all citizens

“Today, when we meet in Kigali for Transform Africa, the question will not be how Africa will be connected but rather how this infrastructure can reach the final person,” he added.

Africa’s biggest challenge remains linking population to available ICT infrastructures as well as the high cost of making phone calls.

Rwanda and other EAC member states are among the countries where making a single phone call is more expensive than in any other part of the world.

The issue of affordability of telecoms and data will be one of the key issues to discussed at the Kigali summit this week.

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