The ’Connect Rwanda’ challenge was launched in November 2019 by MTN Rwanda CEO, Mitwa Kaemba Ng’ambi. It aims at distributing smartphones citizens who cannot afford them in Rwanda.
Individuals and different institutions across the country participate in the challenge through social media by pledging a number of smartphones they will be providing and tagging other people to participate as well.
BRD pledged 500 smartphones on Monday, 30th December 2019 after the Ministry of Infrastructures donated 730 smartphones.
In a tweet by Claver Gatete, the Minister of Infrastructure in the Rwandan Cabinet, he said: "Joining the Connect Rwanda challenge, the Ministry of Infrastructure and affiliated agencies pledge to give 730 Mara Phones to unconnected households, plus another 730 solar home systems, which come with a charging system."
On Tuesday, 31st December 2019, Paula Ingabire, the Minister of ICT and Innovation announced that the challenge had led to people pledging at least 31,000 smartphones so far.
However, adding the 500 smartphones that will be provided by BRD and the 730 smartphones from the Ministry of Infrastructure, the total number has now reached 32,000 smartphones.
Several institutions across the country have participated in the challenge including Rwanda National Police (RNP) that pledged 1200 smartphones.
The smartphones that will be distributed will allow owners to select a language of choice between Kinyarwanda, French, and English.
The smartphones will have pre-installed applications including Irembo, Banking, health and education services as well as Smart Nkunganire System (SNS), a supply chain management system built by BK TecHouse Ltd in collaboration with Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) to digitalize the end to end value chain of the Agro-Input Subsidy program.
The smartphones will assist poor families in accessing government services without having to go through or be assisted by a third party.
Mara Phones are in two types with Mara X sold at Rwf 139,000 and Mara Z sold at Rwf 180,000.
To support the challenge, Mara Phones will provide a discount on Mara X from Rwf 139,000 to only Rwf 100,000.