The Ministry of Youth and ICT (MYICT), in conjunction with Kigali City public transport operators and Olleh Rwanda Networks, are currently rolling out an initiative to provide free wireless Internet in public transport phase.
The initiative, which began at the end of last month, is currently in its trial phase with intention of rolling it out countrywide, according to Emmanuel Dusenge, a senior engineer in ICT infrastructure development at the ministry.
The initiative, it is hoped, will scale up broadband adoption in the country.
Dusenge said the initiative is continuation of Smart Kigali Initiative, which was launched last year to provide wireless in public places and the 4GLTE high-speed Internet.
In the long run, the objective of the initiative is to introduce the general public to Internet use and act as a value added service for commuters using public transport, he added.
The buses that currently have wireless fitted on them belong to Kigali Bus Services, Royal Express and Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperative (RFTC).
Dusenge said this being a continuation of a previous initiative, they have adopted lessons learnt during the previous attempt such as improving the technology used.
Previous technologies experienced difficulties due to the mobility of the buses as well as fast depletion of the bandwidth when used by many commuters.
“We have also noted the fact that there are more and more people using the internet compared to the previous phase of the initiative, hence the need to improve the Internet available. We are currently testing the improved equipment and discussing an appropriate model to ensure its suitability including training the public,” he said.
Under the arrangement, Olleh Rwanda Networks feature to support in technology enhancements which fit the situation.
City Commuters welcomed the initiative calling for more buses to be fitted with internet. Those who spoke to The New Times said the service came in handy as a value added service.
Faustin Gatare, a university student, said the continued roll-out of the service was in line with making internet access a utility in Rwanda.
“This is the first time I got to use 4G that I had only heard about previously, it presents a chance to find out how convenient it is compared to other technologies, it will certainly increase the subscription to 4G,” he said.
The initiative rollout almost coincides with the release of an annual report, The Affordability Report, produced by the Alliance for Affordable Internet which placed Rwanda top in the list of the African countries with the most affordable Internet.
Rwanda was placed 10 globally among nations with the most affordable internet. Other African countries that made it to the top five in Africa were; Nigeria, Morocco, Uganda and Kenya. Costa Rica was first globally.
The report released through efforts of top technology firms such as Microsoft, Internet Society, and Mercy corps among others is part of ongoing efforts to understand why some countries have succeeded in making Internet access more affordable, accessible and universal, and what others can do to catch up quickly.