As part of the broad Smart Kigali initiative, more than 400 buses have been connected to 4G Internet connection, which will allow passengers on board have full access to free super-fast internet.
Some 487 buses belonging to Kigali Bus Services, Royal Express and Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperative (RFTC) had been fitted with special-purpose internet devices by last evening.
This, according to officials, made Kigali the first city not only in the region but also across the continent to provide citizens with the free wireless internet in public transport.
The initiative comes after the City of Kigali in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and ICT and other stakeholders last year launched the Internet Bus Project, which will see all buses not only within Kigali, but also across the country offer internet to passengers.
Following the launch of the project, last year, five buses were connected as a pilot project before the general roll out.
During launch at Kigali Car Park, yesterday, many officials said the project would change the lifestyle of the city dwellers and visitors, as well improve the service delivery among other things.
“Internet connectivity is becoming increasingly important as an enabler for a number of things as well as a lifestyle. 4G has been perceived as the internet for high-end customers,” said Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, the minister for youth and ICT.
“This project has come to change that misconception and break the perception by delivering the benefits of accessing internet service to the general public in Kigali.”
While passengers can now be able to browse free Internet on buses, some challenges remain, where for instance one needs to login with personal information like the username and email, which some people might find difficult.
However, the minister assured the general public that all these issues will be solved soon.
“We know there are issues where one is required to first provide personal information, which not everyone may have, not all people have emails. Again, one is required to login again when he goes to another bus, which is also time wastage. However, we are working in a way that we solve all these issues,” Nsengimana said.
The project’s launch has seen the start of the implementation of the 4G solutions for the benefit of general population in Rwanda, and the aim is to scale up broadband adoption in the country.
Vianney Mugabo, the acting mayor of City of Kigali, said the presence of the free internet is meant to benefit people in one way or another.
“The free wireless should provide genuine benefits to people on the move in terms of business continuity, entertainment and staying connected. It may be responding to that email to close a deal, not missing your favorite team play or just catching up with friends and family. The world is moving fast and one can accomplish much without being bored on the bus,” he said.
Smart Kigali initiative was launched in 2013 with the aim of providing free wireless connection in buses and taxis, airports , hotels and restaurants among other places as well as improving internet connectivity and access around the capital.