Kigali City is still recording the highest users of both fixed and mobile telephones per household in Rwanda, according to information attributed to the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Estimates released last week during the official launch of the African Economic Outlook report indicate that more than 70 percent house holds in Kigali City have phones a figure of 7 times more than the Southern Province which is seemingly more connected than any other part of the country.
According to a presentation by Dr. Félicien Usengumukiza, Senior Research Fellow with the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda) the Northern Province has the least number of phone users as compared to the other provinces.
Quoting figures from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Dr. Usengumukiza, who was presenting an analysis of Rwanda’s Information Communication and Technology (ICT) also said that Rwanda has the second least number of mobile subscribers as well as fixed line users among the EAC countries.
The figures, ‘ICT indicators 2009’ indicate that Rwanda has a tele-density of 15.5 mobile subscribers per 100 inhabitants and 0.17 fixed phone users per 100 inhabitants. Kenya has the most followed by Uganda, Tanzania while Burundi is the least connected.
Figures attributed to the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) also indicate that there is an estimation of 991,977 phone users in Kigali City of about 1.3 million phone users countrywide as of December 2008.
According the RURA report dated December 2008, Rwanda had 16,852 subscribers on fixed subscription and about 1,322,637 on mobile phone subscription. Rwandatel beats MTN-Rwandacell in fixed phone subscription while it is the reverse with mobile phone users.
Rwandatel has about 99.5 percent of the fixed telephony market share while MTN-Rwandacell has about 0.5 percent. On the mobile telephony by the time the report was released, MTN-Rwandacell had the lion share with about 87.6 percent while Rwandatel had 12.4 percent.
The users are expected to increase further, once the third national telecom operator, Millicom Cellular rolls out its Tigo operations later this year.
Dr. Usengumukiza said that the current mobile phone penetration rate is the highest Rwanda has registered in a decade.
“This has been accompanied by a decrease of costs of connections and handsets due to the liberalisation of the ICT market that broke the monopoly spirit with participation of different companies,” he said.
Rwanda targets 6 million phone subscribers by 2012. In this year’s budget, government scrapped taxes on handsets in order to spur ICT penetration across the country.
Rwanda aims to become a regional ICT hub with government planning to invest about $100 million in the sector this year.
The big investment priorities include the laying of a fibre optic loop across the country which will take $66 million and the purchase of 100,000 laptops estimated to cost $20 million.
About $13 million will be pooled from the $24 million communication grant from World Bank will be allocated to connect local fibre to international bandwidth.
The first phase of laying the cable was in Kigali and the second phase will cover all 30 districts in the country, which are expected to be completed by the end of this year.