The volume of payments and cash transfers via mobile money platforms increased significantly in recent years—a development that underpins the country’s move towards cashless transaction and deeper financial inclusion.
According to the recently released Rwanda ICT sector profile for 2013, both the number of registered users, volumes transferred and number of transactions carried out increased.
Last year the volume transacted grew to over Rwf 330 billion, up from Rwf 161billion in the previous year. Over 57 million transactions were handled last year.
The report, Towards a Cashless Economy, released after a joint study by the Ministry of Youth and ICT, Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority (RURA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Rwanda National Institute of Statistics, sought to measure the sector’s performance and track ICT for development in the country’s social and economic transformation.
While presenting the report, the minister of Youth and ICT, Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, noted that the rising payments via mobile money platforms can be attributed to the increased mobile phone penetration in the country.
“Mobile phone penetration as at the end of 2013 stood at 63 per cent, which is almost a 10 per cent increase from 2012. Over 2.5 million Rwandans are registered mobile money users and we project that the number will keep growing because of the convenience and ease of using the systems,” he said.
The report also indicated that the number of automated Teller Machines increased by 14 per cent in 2013 to 333 from 292 in the previous year.
Other services that have been made available online include tax declarations with E-Filling having about 31 721 subscribers.
The minister also noted that previously, an importer of goods would have to go through 19 different agencies to clear with customs, which has now been reduced to one single electronic window.
However, Nsengimana noted that some challenges such as low internet penetration, undermined the social economic impact of the sector.
“Currently internet penetration is at 20 per cent, if we are to have all government services online in the next 37 months, we need a higher internet penetration. The levels of digital literacy are still not where we would want them to be, for us to adequately reach out to people.”
He challenged local creative content developers to produce content and services to meet specific needs.
MTN Rwanda chief executive officer, Ebenezar Asante called for the investment in research to find out why uptake of internet in some areas is not as high as expected.
Carlos Mwizerwa, the head of ICT Planning & Coordination Division at Rwanda Development Board pointed out that the innovative capacity was still fairly low for an economy keen on being knowledge-based.
He however noted that there have been programmes and strategies put in place such as the establishment of K-Lab, an innovative tech hub that builds capacity of IT developers on various levels.