‘Smart Kigali’ brings free internet to city

Left to Right. Rwanda Development Board Acting Chief Operating Officer, Tony Nsanganira, City of Kigali Mayor Fidel Ndayisaba, Youth and ICT minister Jean Philbert Nsengimana, and Tigo CEO Diego Camberos browse the internet inside a town service bus on Friday. Residents of the City of Kigali will now have access to free wireless internet in specific areas under what has been dubbed the ‘Smart Kigali’ initiative that was launched on Friday. The New Times/ John Mbanda.

Residents of the City of Kigali will now have access to free wireless internet in specific areas under what has been dubbed the ‘Smart Kigali’ initiative that was launched on Friday.

The designated areas where people will have access to wi-fi include public buses, King Faisal Hospital, Nyabugogo Taxi Park, and commercial buildings and restaurants within the city.

The initiative is a partnership between the City of Kigali, internet service providers and government agencies like Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency and Rwanda Development Board, as well as the Rwanda Hotel and Restaurant Association.

“Smart Kigali will significantly contribute towards delivering better services. We want internet broadband to be accessible for everyone to be able to access information anytime,” said Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister for Youth and ICT.

Nsengimana noted that the initiative will help speed up the country’s development where people can access various services online.

Smart Kigali also aims at facilitating people, especially visitors, to use the already established online direction navigator that entails the newly named streets and homes address information on Google maps and also facilitate online payments.

To start with, City of Kigali released a list of public locations categorised based on number of people that visit the particular location.

They include Union Trade Centre, Kigali City Tower, Kigali City Market, Centenary House and downtown hotels and restaurants that will be served by Tigo.

Nyabugogo Taxi Park will jointly be serviced by Tigo and Airtel.

The two operators have also installed a hotspot at King Faisal Hospital, while other providers including at the BSC Limited, ISPA, MTN and Liquid Telecom shared MTN Centre, the Remera-Kisementi area, Amahoro National Stadium, Kigali Public Library, Kigali International Airport, KBC, Kacyiru-ministries, KIST and KIE.

Fifteen of Kigali Bus Services’ large buses have also been equipped with the service.

“This is a public-private partnership; internet service providers and the government will foot the bill,” the minister said.
He explained that the telecom operators and internet service providers have a business model behind the initiative.

“The most important thing is to create a market by just giving people the ability to test. You test what is broadband and then you go and buy it in case you come across where there is no free wireless broadband.”

Broadband internet connectivity has become one of the key services required in hospitality facilities almost at the same level as electricity and water.

“Reliable internet connectivity is an enabler for the rest of hotels operations such as marketing and sales. It is, therefore important this service is delivered with highest quality standards but also affordably,” Nsengimana told hospitality industry operators.

Rura is currently working with association of hotels to improve internet access, set connectivity and bandwidth standards for hotels and facilitate improved quality of service provided by service providers.

Advancing ICT

“This is yet another step in advancing ICT use in our city which will also make visitors’ experience in Kigali more enjoyable,” said Fidele Ndayisaba, the City of Kigali mayor.

In June, South Korea’s largest telecom company, Korea Telecom (KT), entered into an agreement with Rwanda to deploy 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) broadband network across the country to ensure fast, reliable and cheaper Internet services.

And early last week, the government signed a partnership deal with KT to establish a joint venture that will build and operate ICT services in the country.

The Systems Integration and IT services joint venture Company will set an agenda for the utilisation of the high-speed Fourth Generation (4G) broadband network by Rwandans for socio-economic transformation.

With only 8 per cent of Rwandans using the internet, according to the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development 2013 report, a few citizens were skeptical on how the latest development will help Rwandans.

“I think these internet service providers have invested a lot in these facilities in the different areas yet many Rwandans neither have smart phones nor laptops. I foresee it only being used by the few who have the devices,” said Beata Ingabire, a second year university student at the School of Finance and Banking.

“If you take a look at the KBS public buses, they are usually very full with passengers. So one is not assured of comfort while surfing the internet,” said Donata Kabalisa, a fast food seller in Kacyiru.

They, however, commended the city’s ambition and said it created a foundation for  greater internet use by those who don’t have access to it.

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"Life is all about being updated" .To the developed world this is a unique secret to great hights of human development.Welldone kigali for the great job and am sure this automatically will pay off economically.The more people to have access choice to tech use ,the higher standards of life achievements are formulated.

07:15:03 Monday 23rd, September 2013 Oceania. - Earth Doctor

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Why have you excluded CHUK, Kanombe Military and Masaka Hospitals?Doctors and patients equally need Internet services like their counterparts at King Faical Hospital.

09:08:17 Monday 23rd, September 2013 Kabuga - Matabaro J

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I want to applaude this great milestone. It is important and will drive the socio economic development in many ways.......Lets now hope that commitments will be made to ensure smooth delivery of the a more efficient and effective manner.

09:12:10 Monday 23rd, September 2013 Kenya - Kimenyi

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Congs MYICT and Hon. Minister Jean Philbert Nsengimana for introducing Smart Kigali, keep up your good work. What will your next innovation ?Have a nice day.

09:49:08 Monday 23rd, September 2013 Maine/ US - Miss Nina Umwiza

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congs Kigali city for your great ambition.., hoping other east african cities gonna learn from you!

16:11:34 Monday 23rd, September 2013 Dar es salaam - simon

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I must say this is a great development. Just the other day I was using the Wifi on one of the streets here in the UK and I was excited. Congratulation to the team behind this project!

20:10:08 Monday 23rd, September 2013 UK - Gasana Grace

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It is a good initiative. But very important is the connection to the internet for the people in Kigali outside the city centre. For developent the internet business from the home office or for freelancer which are working at home or in offices outside the city centre should be the chance to take part at the development of internet marketing.

For this peope it should be possible to use the services of the companies which are located in the city. Annother thing is, that free internet get the companie, which could pay a charge. Much more impossible would be, that the many other people get free or cheap internet, to take part of the many advantages of the internet.

Looking for jobs, looking for houses or looking cars etc.

22:12:49 Thursday 09th, January 2014 Kigalk / Rwanda - Achim Dobkowitz

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That is fantastic model that all partner EA countries would emulate on a sober sense. I love what Rwanda is doing to help citizens be updated on the world around them.

14:56:00 Tuesday 18th, February 2014 Kampala Uganda - Kashungwa Charles

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Hello everyone and congratulations for Kigali's new internet's milestone! In fact I am planning to come to Rwanda this year and I am looking for someone who could help me in checking Kigali's Internet Speed. It is a simple operation, it is done using Window's CMD application. If someone can help, I would be very thankful :) my email address is .. Thanks! marco

09:18:28 Thursday 24th, April 2014 Italy - Marco

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