Launched in 2019 in partnership with MINICT, the #ConnectRwanda initiative challenged organizations in the public and private sector as well as individuals to donate smartphones to those who cannot afford them.
Though, the distribution of smartphones was stalled over the last few months due to the need to adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures and imposed lockdowns, the activity has resumed.
This initiative is in line with the country’s overall strategy to drive connectivity across the country, closing the digital divide.
Commenting on the donation; Mitwa Ng’ambi MTN Rwanda Chief Executive Officer said: “We thank Rwanda Mountain Tea for honouring their pledge of 566 smartphones.”
“We are also pleased to see Connect Rwanda taking effect, with 44,570 pledges registered, 20,257 honoured and 7,670 smartphones distributed so far, demonstrating just how our objective of connecting Rwanda is bearing fruit and closing the existing digital divide. We believe with these smartphones; the beneficiaries will have access to a myriad of information, digital services and smart solutions, contributing to the growth of the agricultural sector and economy at large,” she added.
The beneficiaries of this initiative will be trained by MTN on handset usage, in addition to registering them to the network and setting up Mobile Money (MoMo) accounts, allowing them to use various MoMo services. Furthermore, the tea farmers will receive free 1 GB data bundle for three (3) consecutive months,connecting them to the digital world.
Paula Ingabire, the Minister of ICT and Innovation has highlighted that Connect Rwanda initiative brings the country closer to the goal of ensuring every Rwandan household owns and uses a smartphone to access services and information.
"Particularly for farmers, smartphones have become a tool that strengthens market linkages, minimizes post-harvest losses through improved farmer-trader coordination and better delivery of extension and advisory services to farmers," she said.
"We are grateful to Rwanda Mountain Tea for joining us on this journey. The 566 tea farmers receiving smartphones will now have quick and easy access to essential information such as daily updates on tea prices, available market and digital financial services while improving their digital literacy,” added Ingabire.
Speaking at the event to distribute smartphones to farmers in Gatare tea plantation; Alain Kabeja, Rwanda Mountain Tea Ltd Managing Director said that the institution is very glad to donate smartphones to tea pluckers which reflects how their effort in contributing ’to our quality and quantity of tea is valued’.
"We purchased 700 Mara phones and wanted to join the Connect Rwanda challenge alongside our President and other companies. Out of the 700 purchased, 74 smartphones were distributed before the pandemic in early 2020 and distribution of 566 is currently ongoing, which leaves 60 smartphones to be distributed at a later date," he said.
"With these phones distributed in all our 7 tea factories, our tea pluckers will benefit from using Momo Pay to receive payments, access to the internet and Irembo services. We are excited to see our tea pluckers transition to modern technology that will facilitate their day-to-day activities,” added kabeja.
The smartphones are to be distributed to tea farmers in various tea plantations, which include Gatare, Gisakura, Kitabi, Mata, Rubaya, Nyabihu and Rutsiro tea plantations covering both the Western and Southern Provinces.
About Ministry of ICT and Innovation (MINICT)
MINICT’s mission is to address national priorities relating to economic growth and poverty reduction through development and coordination of national policies and programs related to information, technology, communication and innovation as well as citizen’s empowerment.
About Rwanda Mountain Tea
Rwanda Mountain Tea (RMT) is a privately owned company that invested in three business lines; tea growing and processing, Hydropower generation and fabrication of concrete material. RMT tea estates are located in Congo Nile Divide Region. The good quality of green leaf is defined by a regular fresh hills drizzle and naturally cultivated fields making it (green leaf) have an original and pure taste. RMT owns five Tea Factories, namely Rubaya, Kitabi, Nyabihu, Rutsiro and Gatare, all spread across Rwanda’s countryside.
About MTN Rwanda
MTN Rwandacell PLC (MTN Rwanda) is the market leader in mobile telecommunications in Rwanda. Since 1998, we have continuously invested in expanding and modernising our footprint and are the country’s No 1 network. MTN Rwanda offers various innovative services to consumers and enterprises, including personalised voice, data, home and fixed connectivity solutions. The company is also the front runner in Mobile Financial Services in Rwanda delivered through its FinTech subsidiary, Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd.