MTN Rwanda, in partnership with Bank of Kigali, has launched a Device Financing Program dubbed ‘Macye Macye’ to enable customers to purchase smartphones and tablets by paying in installments. For as low as Rwf200 per day, an MTN client will be able to buy a smartphone and pay that amount in installments until the full payment is complete. The move seeks to bridge the digital divide by offering a more affordable system for people to acquire gadgets that help them tap into opportunities available in the technological world. Mapula Bodibe, Chief Executive of MTN Rwanda, said: “We understand that the power of digital transformation can propel the country in terms of development and drive connectivity and advancement for all our people. She added that this comes as a solution to leaving no one behind in partaking in digital benefits with ease even in the current economic situation where people have to prioritize their expenses. Diane Karusisi, CEO of Bank of Kigali, said “We are very delighted to partner with MTN Rwanda for the device financing program which we believe will further accelerate smartphone penetration and empower communities.” “At Bank of Kigali, we are constantly innovating to create digital products and campaigns that will allow us to serve Rwandans seamlessly, and this program speaks to our belief that everyone should easily access digital financial services,” she added. Speaking during the launching event, the minister of ICT and innovation, Paula Ingabire, noted that the solution to bridge the current digital gap requires joint effort from different stakeholders in the industry. Referring to the Mobile Economy Report that states that about 44 percent of people living in areas covered by broadband networks do not use internet services, she commended the initiative as a way of connecting the underserved population. Data indicate that while MTN provides 98 percent network coverage for the entire Rwandan population, however, only 22 percent of them use the internet. In 2020, the telco in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation launched the first phase of Connect Rwanda program that successfully delivered 26,599 devices to beneficiaries in different sectors across the country to support their access to digital services. These included local administrative leaders, informal businesswomen, and farmers, among others. How to get your smartphone with ‘Macye Macye’ For eligibility, MTN customers will be prequalified based on a credit score that is determined by their purchases of various telecommunications services such as Voice, Data, SMS, and Mobile Money over the last 12 months. To register in the financing program and start the process of knowing the type of device they are eligible to purchase, a client can dial a USSD *182*12#. According to the telco, each device purchased under the device financing program will be bundled with free data of up to 2GB, talk time of up to 50 minutes and up to 200 SMS, and all payments will be made via Mobile Money. Interested clients have different categories as options including the single device plan where individuals buy smartphones for their own use, family device plan where individuals can buy for themselves and other family members, community device plan, as well as an upgrade device plan for a client who wants to trade in their current smartphone to get another. Benjamin Mutimura, chief commercial officer, BK, said this is a step closer in extending the bank’s digital services to clients and improving their customer experience. He added that the lender will continue to provide partnerships to allow the affordability of other digital gadgets beyond smartphones. Yaw Ankoma Agyapong, MTN Rwanda’s Chief Consumer and Digital Officer, said as more people get affordable opportunities to own smartphones, they will need reliable internet access to enter the digital world. “Devices and internet solutions go hand-in-hand; we cannot have one without the other.” In that line, Bodibe announced that the telco will introduce its own 4G network on the basis of the new broadband policy recently issued by the ICT ministry. “One of the key policy expectations is that we would reduce access to services through affordable pricing...what we are focusing on right now is to make sure that the current 2G region network that we have is going to be complemented by a 4G service. That actually allows our customers to fully experience the digital world.” Besides affordability, digital literacy is one of the major challenges highlighted by experts in the industry to digital adoption, MTN is rolling out a Digital Skills Academy across some of its operating companies which will also accelerate the efforts to bridge the digital gender divide.