Costs of Internet broadband in the country are expected to reduce from $3,000 to $25 for each Megabyte per second
Information Communication and Technology (ICT) can dramatically improve the quality and availability of public services, World Bank Country Manager Victoria Kwakwa said recently.
In her remarks Kwakwa, highlighted that nearly two-thirds of Africa’s population now lives within the range of a mobile network from close to zero.
This was during last week’s three-day ‘3rd annual African e-governance Forum 2009’ that took place in Kigali from the 23rd to the 26th of March.
“Broadband is the key to the future of ICT in Africa,” Kwakwa said. It’s said that broadband in Africa is expensive and inaccessible, not available on a large scale anywhere in Africa.
This year the government of Rwanda committed to invest above $100 million in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry.
The big investment priorities include laying a national broadband backbone connecting to the coastal submarine cables expected to be completed by 2010.
Laying of the national backbone across the country will pave away for rural telecommunication development and increase the rate of telecommunication penetration in the country and bridge the telecommunication gap.
Two of the submarine cables being targeted include the East Africa Submarine System (EASSy) and The East African Marine System (TEAMS). Costs of Internet broadband in the country are expected to reduce from $3,000 to $25 for each Mega byte per second.
Currently charges for bandwidth of 512 kilo bytes per second (512kbps/ 128kbps) costs Frw950,000 per month on wireless while on fiber connection its Frw360,000 for 256 Kilo bytes per second (256kbps/96kbps) per month.
Once the cables are complete, access to international bandwidth connected to Rwanda will increase more than three times and the price will fall by over 50 percent.
According to Diogene Mudenge, the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Agency (RURA) boss, the current Internet penetration is 5 percent from licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs), MTN, Rwandatel and Artel which is a communications company that belongs to government.
The government is targeting 60 percent penetration by 2012. Currently, mobile phone subscribers in Rwanda are 1.5 million with 1.25 million subscribing with MTN.
About 250,000 subscribe with Rwandatel. The country is targeting 5 million subscribers by 2012.
The projection is based on the growth in mobile phone penetration with a 3rd mobile national operator expected to open office by the end of this year. With the help of New Artel, above 120 Megabytes per second (Mbps) of Internet connection have been provided to rural areas.
The move will help institutions in rural areas to be connected to their main branches for enhancements of services and thus meeting the customer’s satisfaction.
Artel is currently equipped to deliver wholesale Internet access and Very Small Aperture Terminal’s (VSAT) solutions across the country. It is also the largest supplier of Internet access in the country and the only licensed satellite operator.
VSAT are means of providing data and voice connectivity for remote localities. During the e-Gov forum, participants wanted to know how their respective countries can benefit from the World Bank to fund ICT projects, whereby the country manager believed that the Bank is dictated by national priorities.
Kwakwa hailed the government of Rwanda for having identified ICT as a crosscutting issue in the achievement of the MDG’s set to be achieved by 2015.