With the introduction of electronic airtime recharge services, telecommunication companies place themselves at the forefront of environmental protection
Daniel Harelimana, a taxi-motorist, walked into a Rwandatel outlet and asked for a pre-paid Rwf1,000 airtime card. However, instead of getting the usual airtime card, scratched to reveal the magic number and then discarded, one of the attendants, asked for his phone number and within seconds, Harelimana’s pre-paid account had been loaded electronically.
“Iri niterambere koko, (this is real development)” he exclaimed with a raised eyebrow.
Harelimana could not believe that it was possible to recharge his account without having to use a scratch card.
According to the attendant, who only identified herself as Betty, it was now possible to recharge phone accounts without necessarily having to scratch any cards.
This innovative electronic top-up service has been introduced by the telecommunication companies for various reasons. For Rwandatel, however, its ultimate goal was to help protect the environment.
“We believe it is environmental friendly because in the long run, it will lower the rate at which trees are being cut down to manufacture paper and, through E-top up, we are also fulfilling our commitment to eliminate litter from our environment,” Cleophas Kabasiita, the Public Relations Manager of Rwandatel told The New Times.
Apparently, this system is still being tested on the market and is so far complimenting the scratch cards. Rwandatel’s e-top up allows subscribers to pay for any amount of airtime they wish to load from airtime dealers who then use specific codes to load airtime to the subscribers’ phone number.
“It is a very easy system to use and so far many dealers have already started using the new e-top up,” she added.
MTN Rwanda cell on the other hand, introduced electronic recharge system last October and specifically, the company was aiming at making airtime more affordable as the service allows subscribers to recharge their accounts with amounts as low as Rfw100.
“Electronic top-up increases our airtime penetration rate because people far from the city can call dealers and recharge electronically. However, subscribers are also able to purchase airtime at very low costs while the service helps us to protect our environment from littering at the same time,” Yvonne Manzi Makolo, the Public Relations Officer of MTN Rwanda said.
Rwandatel’s Kabasiita also adds that with time, the E-top service will phase out the scratch cards while MTN’s Makolo asserts that a lot of effort is being made to promote the use of electronic top-up. “We are giving our dealers more simcards so that more people can be able to sell our airtime electronically,” Makolo added.
Littering is a important environmental issue. It is amazing that about 94 percent of all the people identify littering as a major environmental problem and yet many continue to throw paper carelessly.
According to Article 8(4) of the Organic Law, which determines the modalities of protection, conservation and promotion of our environment, “dumping, discharging and storing substances that may provoke or increase the degradation of the area of placement is illegal”.
Environmentalists based in Okeechobee County in the United States of America stress that one paper bag thrown out on the roadways, takes one month or longer to decompose; therefore paper is equally as hazardous to the environment as any other material.
With the introduction of electronic airtime recharge services, telecommunication companies place themselves at the forefront of environmental protection.
Thus becoming significant promoters of the precaution principle that emphasises environmental protection against disastrous consequences.