Rwanda will increase digital access and inclusion through investment in key enablers, focusing on underserved areas and groups, Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation has pledged. The envisaged interventions include support for smart device affordability, financing schemes, as well as local connectivity access schemes targeting unconnected government offices, schools, hospitals, and public areas, she said. She delivered the pledge during the ongoing Partner2Connect (P2C) Digital Development Roundtable that aims to mobilize resources, partnerships and commitments that are needed to achieve universal and meaningful connectivity for all. The forum that brings together entrepreneurs, social change-makers, engineers, policy specialists, students, and others from across the world will feature 10 high-level over the course of three days, from June 7 to 9. Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel (Right) interacts with Minister Paula Ingabire and Doreen Bogdan-Martin, the Director at Telecommunication Development Bureau in Kigali on June 7. It is being held on the margins of the World Telecommunication Development Conference that is taking place in Kigali. The minister said the country will work to help and support vulnerable households to ensure that each household in the country owns at least a smartphone. The target is to equip at least 2.8 million households with smartphones by 2030. The Covid-19 pandemic made it more evident that millions of people across the continent rely on the internet to connect with their family and loved ones, work, access healthcare information and other activities. It has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies but challenges such as affordability, digital literacy, and access to digital devices remain. According to the 2020 Affordability report by Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Rwanda has an effective national broadband planning which reduced the cost of 1GB data to less than a fifth of 2015 price, from 20.2 per cent to 3.39 per cent of average monthly income. A meeting took place in Kigali on June 7 This is against the UN Broadband Commission’s affordability threshold of 1GB data costing not more than two per cent of average monthly income. “We are also committing to connect all schools, to ensure that all students in schools have access to information and devices that will allow them to engage in the hybrid mode of learning that we are seeing ourselves venture into today,” said Ingabire. Recently, President Paul Kagame said that Rwanda, as a lead country, has already benefited from the Giga initiative, led by International Telecommunication Union and UNICEF. “The pilot project in 63 schools has resulted in a quadrupling of capacity and a 55 per cent reduction in cost (of broadband).” The Giga Initiative is a UN ambitious enterprise with the purpose of providing internet connectivity to every school in the world by 2030. Another commitment, as highlighted by Minister Ingabire, is about strengthening the foundational digital ID, which will also look at both the national ID and civil registration to support the expansion in key sectors for all online transactions. “We intend to ensure that we have provided these digital ID infrastructures for at least 80 per cent of our population by 2026.” Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel said: “Being connected today is not only the fact that you can get a call, but it also’s the right to get health, school, to defend, inform and be informed, so, don’t reduce it to connectivity.” “But never forget that even if we are fully connected, it should never replace human relations,” he emphasized.