I have had the chance to spend more than 5 weeks in New York City visiting and interning with the Tribeca Film Festival. It was difficult for me to leave Rwanda during the months of April and May while the preparation of the film festival was ongoing.
However, I had been able to get a lot accomplished- even more than if I was in Kigali.
You might be one of the many folks in Rwanda who has complained about the speed of the Internet connection.
I have not been spared, so I decided to look into it. It seems that we all would like to have a high-speed connection in the offices or homes in Rwanda but most of us are set back by the cost that comes along with that.
I have been able to test the bandwidth I was using either at the office or at the apartment while in New York, it is around 912kbps and, to my surprise, it went for 30 dollars per month.
When I say bandwidth, I refer to the range of frequencies used to transmit a signal, In developed countries they define ‘bandwidth’ in simple terms as something that carries voice and data from one place to another.
Normally, these countries buy a huge quantity of bandwidth and resell it to private vendors. The later spread it, at a very affordable price to the private companies and households.
In my spare time I truly enjoyed the facilities.
I spend a lot of times surfing the net on a faster and stable connection. It was great to be able to watch clips from “YouTube” without having to wait for it to buffer for hours.
It was even more encouraging to be able to continue my work of organizing and coordinating the ‘Rwanda Film Festival’ while in New York, simply because the telecommunication was stable and reliable.
Heading back home; some of the readers who are based in Europe or USA, may find my concerns and complaints rather unnecessary.
1Mbps is nothing to shout about but one would ask them to put this into perspective and realize that our local broadband providers are not able to offer such packages. In fact the most packages sold locally to banks and NGO’s are still probably below 1.5 Mbps.
We need ‘real broadband’ and we need lots and lots of it at the consumer and business level. Sadly, when we ask the Internet providers and concerned parties that run and monopolise this segment of the IT industry, the answer we get is that “bandwidth is expensive”.
If this is true then definitely we need assistance from the government. I do not doubt that the Rwandan Government knows and is already involved in finding a solution but this issue needs as much attention as possible.
Perhaps it is now time for the government to re-evaluate the position that we are in now.
Without subsidized fuel, we might have missed the industrial era, and without bandwidth we will lose out to the rest of the world and we will never be the regional IT hub.
The author is a Rwandan Film maker