Rwanda stands to gain a lot from African telecom union – minister

Ratification of the convention of the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) makes Rwanda a full member of the organisation and this will be beneficial to the country, the Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, has said.
Minister Nsengimana said ATU membership will beneift Rwanda. / File.
Minister Nsengimana said ATU membership will beneift Rwanda. / File.

Ratification of the convention of the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) makes Rwanda a full member of the organisation and this will be beneficial to the country, the Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, has said.

The minister was explaining the draft law, adopted last week by the Cabinet, approving the ratification of the convention of ATU.

ATU was created in 1999 in Cape-Town, South Africa to promote inclusion of information society, positive collaboration with the institutions for computer technology research and development with a special focus on African nations.

According to officials, Rwanda, one of the founding members of the Union, had never been a permanent member because it had earlier chosen to be an ‘indirect observer.’

The Bill, however, will need to be vetted and passed by Parliament.

The minister explained that ATU decided to change the Constitution which requires all members to go through the ratification process afresh and it was in Rwanda’s interest to be a fully -fledged member.

“The Union drives Africa’s views on a number of issues of international relevance in the telecom sector. Shifting from being an observer to full membership in ATU will enhance our participation,” Nsengimana said, adding that Rwanda was a member of ITU Council and fully participates in decision making at that level.

ICT hub 

In a quest to make Rwanda the ICT hub of Africa, the government has since 2000 been establishing institutions and mechanisms to create an enabling environment for ICT development, on top of wooing investors and global forums to push its development agenda.

This, according to businesses, also pushed for innovative projects and strategic plans of action to leverage the existing policies and initiatives, which support members of the public to have faster and efficient access to information communication systems.

Alex Ntale, head of ICT chamber at the Private Sector Federation, said such unions and other similar forums had been very supportive in the execution of their daily plans, adding that all stakeholders should ensure a win-win approach.

“Such unions are there to promote standards and help businesses connect and grow. For example, with the support of the International Telecommunication Union, we managed to enable access to connection, and have progressive ranking on the Internet and mobile penetration,” he said.

Ntale added that such forums also help in negotiations on establishment of effective cost in the communication sector, which equally helps the growth of businesses in the sector.

“Another example is the Northern Corridor, where countries managed to set up a One-Area Network which has seen the scrapping of roaming charges. It is through such frameworks that those kinds of initiatives emerge, where key stakeholders seek a win-win approach,” he added.

Of late Rwanda has been ranking among the top global reformers in the World Bank Doing Business report in ICT, among other sectors.

Officials attribute this to several reforms, including online business registration, aimed at making the business environment more conducive.

Recently, senators, in a report, commended progress in the sector in recent years.

Senator Jacqueline Muhongayire said that despite some critical challenges, the country strives to integrate ICT usage in many sectors.

She said, for example, Internet accessibility had reached 3.7 million, equivalent to 33.5 per cent of the population, while by 2015, the number of mobile phone subscribers had reached 7.6 million, translating into 77.8 per cent of the population. 

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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