After the launch of the Kigali Wireless Broadband (WiBro) Network and the Kigali Metropolitan Network (KMN) in December 2009 officials are optimistic that at least, 4 million Rwandans should gain access to high speed Internet within the next two to three years.
Projections also indicate that the project will increase broadband availability to more than 700 Rwandan institutions, including schools, health-care centres and local government administrative centres.
The national backbone is expected to consist of a high-speed fibre-optic network that will link 36 main points in Rwanda’s 30 districts, with a 2,300-kilometre cable running across the country and will also be linking Rwanda to the undersea cable of the cost of Mombasa.
A lot of work was done on the fibre-optic cable. Officials said recently that over 57 Km of the cable had been completed by the Korean Telecom that is contracted to lay the cable.
About 19 video conferencing terminals have already been installed at respective sites and local area networks have been installed in 12 districts offices and four ministries.
While we sail through 2010 one of the biggest challenges according RDB-IT officials will be the tapping of Internet bandwidth from the coastal points of presence. The infrastructure is already in place but the bandwidth is yet to be readily available.
It is projected that after all the projects are up and running, the use of ICTs will lower the cost of business thus mitigating Rwanda’s geographical disadvantage by encouraging Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country through development and promotion of a vibrant and competitive ICT industry.
Before spelling out the challenges ahead, it is important that we review what the country achieved in the past year. During the year 2009, after the adaptation of the National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI), MTN Rwanda’s license was renewed following the end of the initial monopoly period of mobile provision.
Also in the telecom industry a third mobile operator (Tigo) was licensed and was commercially launched in November.
Official documentation on the state of ICT in the country in 2009 also indicates that mobile penetration increased from 7 percent from 2007 to 13.8 percent by September 2009 the time the review was made.
In 2009 about 13 licenses were issued to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) including one to a digital pay TV operator.
The establishment of 30 tele-centres in all 30 districts was registered and also under the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) programme an extra 100,000 were ordered and are currently being distributed.
According to officials the overall budget execution on ICT was almost 100 percent executed and was mainly due to fact that most of the projects implemented.
The overall budget allocation in 2009 was Rwf10.7 billion and Rwf10.6 billion was spent representing a 99 percent execution.
The Kigali Metropolitan and WiBro Networks had a budget of Rwf1.5 billion but Rwf1.4 billion was allocated representing a 95 percent while the National Backbone Infrastructure was 100 percent covered with Rwf6.7 billion.
Focus in the year 2010 The main focus in this year will be the facilitation of the process of sustaining the economic development and growth towards improving regional competitiveness in ICT.
Priority areas in ICT include skill development, improving on the integration of communication infrastructure, strengthen private sector, development of service delivery and also access of the information rural community.
Also fiscal year (2010/2011) will focus on the development of phase III of ICT national strategic policy. There is a target to development and enactment of the ICT Bill by the end of 2010