37,000 smartphones distributed under Connect Rwanda challenge - President Kagame

On 1 January 2020 at 09:02

President Paul Kagame has provided updates about the ’Connect Rwanda’ challenge that was launched last month by MTN Rwanda CEO, Mitwa Kaemba Ng’ambi. Currently, at least 37,000 smartphones have been given away to disadvantaged families from individuals and different institutions across the country.

In an interview President Kagame had with Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA), he mentioned that smartphones that will be offered to poor families will assist them in accessing government services without having to go through or be assisted by a third party. "The initiative will ease the access to government services for families that could not otherwise have that privilege. In a modern connected world where every information is available online, the challenge ensures that even poor families are not left in the dark."

"I was informed earlier this morning that at least 37,000 smartphones have been distributed. It is a remarkable beginning."
President Kagame said that smartphones that will be given away will allow farmers to obtain information about where they can sell their products and how to improve yield through better agricultural techniques."

He added that in order to ease the access to internet services, plans have been set to provide internet packages for that particular group of people at a cheaper price. "It would not be logical to provide smartphones and forget that poor people cannot afford internet. We have thought about that too. The smartphones will come in handy not only to the people they will be handed to but also to their families who otherwise had no access to online information."

"It is the exact same thing for electricity. Providing electricity is one thing and facilitating its access for poor families is another. This could be a life-changing moment for them."

President Kagame recently announced via his Twitter his pledge of 1500 smartphones for the ’Connect Rwanda’ challenge and thanked his family for their contribution as well. "Thank you to my family for accepting my challenge to play your part to Connect Rwanda and donating Mara Phones. Jeannette donated 27 and my children: Ivan, 23, Ange Kagame and Bertrand:15,Ian, 15, Brian, with money saved from his internship, 5 and Jeannette’s niece,Nana, still in university, 3."

At the launch of Mara Phones plant in October 2019, President Kagame said that only 15% of Rwandans can afford smartphones but that the country aspires to connect all its 2.88 million households.

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) reported that in general, 9.5 million Rwandans (78.8%) use mobile phones.