HUYE — One of the best internet service providers and telecenter companies in Southern Province, Rocket2020, has slowly disintegrated into unregulared businesses, with one in Muhanga now a video library.
The fall of Rocket2020, has caused enormous frustration from majority of residents.
Established in 2006, Rocket2020 has been operating in the districts of Nyanza, Muhanga, Ruhango and Huye providing cheap and accessible internet to residents, especially the youth.
In the last two months, residents have not been accessing internet services and were told network connection were down. Now almost all shops have and telecentres have been closed.
The impact has been felt heavily among the youth in the districts of Ruhango, Nyanza and Muhanga, where the telecentres were thought to be a key ingredient in the middle-class neighbourhoods.
Under authorisation from RITA, there is now said to be a diversion of funds from the original projects.
In Muhanga, things have gone too far to believe; the original telecentre has turned out into a commodity shop selling sugar, maize flour and biscuits.
In Ruhango, Huye and Nyanza, where there is no single internet café, all hardware and software has been already packed in the boxes and returned to Kigali Head office in Kimironko.
“We have certainly been proud for fast internet because more of these services will help disseminate information at our own disposal. However, this is a deadend and one cannot afford to travel to Kigali or Muhanga to read mail for ten minutes,” Jean Pierre Twizeyeyezu, a Contact Fm correspondent in Ruhango said.
“This is a sorry state because the need for internet services has been a crucial issue for years in this area,” another resident Hadija Uwamahoro said.
“For now, most of us have no idea about this closure and it’s like taking the world of communication, but we are left with temptations that it’s a true lie…maybe the company doesn’t consider the usefulness of providing internet services.”
One telecentre manager said everything was now official.
“The project has basically died out from its original vision-supplying cheap internet and information and we are closing officially.
There has been a diversion of funds from the original internet telecentre to providing consumable commodities and some of the centres have had to close because this is not a business to compete in the open markets.”
“The center was opened last year and aimed at availing cheap and accessible ICT services to resident-a target group of business people, students on vacation, intellectuals and people of all walks,” Michael Kageruka, Muhanga branch manager said.
Kageruka added that the center has been providing user- friendly services and the Ubuntu lynx (the Kinyarwanda internet version) among others.
“The computers are reliable and so are the services. We encourage and train users in all languages and this responds to the needs of providing personal, national information, various communication services like Skype internet calls” Kageruka said.
Antoine Bigirimana, the chairman of Rocket2020 project is also accused of not paying the employees salary arrears for months and the using the telecentres to solicit funds from donors in the USA without implementing the original vision of the project.
Earlier this year, some Rocket2020 officials were fired from the company for allegedly mishandling the company administration powers and funds and sources indicate that this setoff a relapse in providing and maintaining its goals and creating loggerheads within the company staff and administration.
Distorted vision: In three years, Rocket2020 was estimated to have opened at least 100 telecentres countrywide on top of the six existing ones in Nyanza, Ruhango, Huye, Muhanga and Gasabo today.
The public was also supposed to access service printer, scanner and photocopy services, as well as government information portals.
On the company sign-posts reads, two inscriptions: “When everything seems to be dark, we are the light at the end of the tunnel” “We bring the world to you” but this seems to call for another evaluation.