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Govt optimistic on broadband penetration

The government has expressed optimism to achieve 80 per cent broadband penetration across the country over the next five years.

The government has expressed optimism to achieve 80 per cent broadband penetration across the country over the next five years.

The Internet penetration currently stands at eight per cent; however the government has come up with a strategy to scale penetration levels.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday on the sidelines of a national broadband consultative meeting, the Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, said the government is looking to further upgrade its networks to provide high-speed communications across the country.

He added: “We are developing a broadband policy that will help address the market failures that keep Internet prices high, hence low broadband penetration. We are also structuring a market that will result in more affordable, reliable and fast broadband services accessed.”

According to the minister, Rwanda is looking forward to underpin its ICT infrastructure to support its expanding broadband policy that will deliver access to various broadband services, including applications such as e-governance, e-banking, e-learning and e-health.

 “We are targeting to achieve 80 per cent broadband penetration by 2018; however, we are currently reviewing the broadband policy to come up with a more realistic target. I am hopeful 80 per cent will be achieved,” said Nsengimana.

Broadband,as a tool to deliver data and foster innovation, will surely serve as one of the main drivers to achieving Rwanda’s goal to become a knowledge-based economy.

Studies have demonstrated that investments in increasing broadband penetration generate positive returns with significant economic growth.

Rwanda last month entered into an agreement with South Korea’s largest telecom company, Korea Telecom, to deploy Fourth Generation (4G) broadband network in the country.

Rwanda is among a few countries in Africa set to roll-out a high-speed 4G network that delivers download speed of up to 100 Megabytes per second. The high speed wireless broadband technology builds on more than 3,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable that is rolled out countrywide.

Boosting growth 

The optic cable laid in 2010, seeks to boost access to various broadband services in line with the country’s ambition of achieving a middle-income status by 2017.

Steve Mutabazi, the RDB strategy advisor on the 4G network, said affordable and accessible broadband services will will enhance service delivery.

According to the Ministry of ICT, the draft broadband policy is in final stages, before it’s tabled before cabinet for approval.

The broadband service providers in the country include MTN Rwanda, Tigo, Airtel, Broadband Systems Corporation, New Artel and Altech Stream.

ITU estimates that 2.7 billion people–or 39 per cent of the world’s population–will be using the Internet by end of 2013.

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