EDITORIAL: Spreading the Christmas cheer digitally is very possible

Rwanda’s digitisation process, its approach towards it and the speed by which it is achieving it would make many an outsider wonder in amazement. But there is not much to it really, just like any other policies or projects it embarks upon.

Most of the time the solutions are within arm’s reach. A Kinyarwanda proverb sums it up nicely; Ijya kurisha ihera ku rugo (a cow that goes to graze begins with the grass closest at hand). Why look far when the solutions are at hand?

 That is the case with the current ‘smart phone challenge’ triggered by mobile telephone provider MTN. Since most government services have gone online, it makes sense that a household has at least one smart phone to access them.

A country of about 2.8 million households, it is estimated that only about 20 per cent have access to smartphones.  Despite a high mobile penetration rate, the rest use rudimental phones that are not internet-enabled.

MTN began the challenge by donating 1,000 phones with the CEO pledging another 100 on her behalf. She challenged President Kagame who upped her pledge with 1,500. Ever since it has been a rollercoaster as many institutions and individuals have taken up the challenge.

The locally manufactured Mara phone seems to have been the biggest winner as nearly everyone was pledging a Mara smartphone to promote the Made-in-Rwanda brand.

Christmas is a time to be generous and Rwandans have made sure that many households will have reasons to cheer, but, most importantly they have again shown that the solutions lie within themselves and all they need to do is think slightly outside the box


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