KIGALI - Internet penetration in the countryside remains limited due to the low disposable income among populations in rural areas, telecom officials have said.
MTN Rwanda’s Chief Marketing Officer, Yvonne Manzi Makolo explained that internet usage is largely limited by accessibility and affordability.
“The biggest barrier to entry for internet is the cost of both computers and smart phones,” Makolo said.
However, she added, in order to tackle the issue of affordability, MTN has introduced low cost data enabled handsets, ranging from Rwf18,500 to Rwf20,000 to get more people on the internet, especially those in rural areas.
She further noted that the operator had rolled out the EDGE technology across the country and 3.5G in Kigali. This means that people have access to the internet wherever there is MTN network.
TIGO Rwanda’s, Marketing Manager, Nina Ndabaneze said the lower mobile telephony and internet penetration is usually based on economical factors.
“People in rural areas usually have less disposable income than those in urban areas,” she said.
According to the statistics from RURA released in June, mobile penetration dropped from to 34.4 percent in April from 36.3 in March, then picked up in May to 36 percent.
“Currently, the majority of mobile voice users in Rwanda are outside Kigali. Due to the increase in network coverage, Kigali now accounts for about 40 percent while the rest of the country is 60 percent,” Makolo revealed.
RURA is targeting six million mobile users by next year.
The country’s leading telecom operator, MTN, covers 95 percent of the country and claims that the usage outside Kigali has increased due to increased network coverage, affordable handsets in the market (as low as Rwf10,000), and an improved economy.