Connect Rwanda 2.0 Initiative: Over 1 million Rwandans to own smartphones in six months

By Esther Muhozi
On 22 November 2023 at 12:14

In a collaborative effort between the Airtel Rwanda telecommunications company and the Government of Rwanda, the ’Connect Rwanda 2.0’ program has been initiated to make smartphones accessible to over a million Rwandans in six months at an affordable price of Rwf20,000. The program, aimed at enhancing citizens’ access to technology services, was recently launched in various districts.

The program kicked off in Burera District in the Northern Province and continued in Kayonza District in the Western Province, and Western Province this time around.

The smartphone distribution in the Western Province specifically took place in Kanjongo Sector, Nyamasheke District, on November 21, 2023.

Emmanuel Hamez, the Managing Director of Airtel Rwanda, emphasized the goal of ensuring widespread access to these smartphones. With plans to distribute over a million phones within six months, Hamez highlighted the compact size of the phones, packed with features including 4G internet capability. Despite the usual market value of over Rwf65,000, Airtel Rwanda is offering these phones to the public for only Rwf20,000.

As an added incentive, customers purchasing the phone will pay Rwf1000 monthly for free calls to all lines and 1GB of daily internet usage. Hamez expressed gratitude to the leadership and Airtel Rwanda’s subscribers, assuring continuous efforts to expand internet networks with the aim of making 4G internet available nationwide by January 2024.

Joseph Désiré Muhayeyezu, Acting Mayor of Nyamasheke District, highlighted the low percentage of smartphone users in the area and welcomed the program’s potential to significantly increase this number.

The initiative aligns with the government’s plan to transition all services to electronic platforms by 2024.

Residents like Ingabire Donatha and Sindayigaya Venant shared their excitement about the affordable smartphones. Donatha, a farmer, emphasized the convenience of owning a smartphone for timely agricultural purchases, while Sindayigaya expressed relief from the financial burden, enabling him to invest time more productively.

Western Province Governor Lambert Dushimimana, emphasized the significance of such initiatives in achieving the government’s development goals. Under this plan, this initiative is expected to provide more than 280,000 smartphones in the Western Province, aiming for 3000 phones per sector, as part of the broader strategy to accelerate the adoption of electronic services.

Customers purchasing the smartphone will pay Rwf1000 monthly for free calls to all lines and 1GB of daily internet usage.