In a bid to cut costs on e-soko Internet and SMS charges, the information technology department of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is in advanced stages of negotiating with Rwandatel and Tigo to host the same services by January next year. Only MTN offers the service.
“We have been delayed by the fact that Rwanda lacks what we call an aggregator that can help provide this one service on all networks, Arthur Byabagambi an official in RDB/IT said.
The e-soko or e-market is an electronic platform giving farmers, consumers and traders up-to-date market price information by SMS and Internet.
Byabagambi said that when running across networks it will be availed at a cheaper cost especially given the ongoing competition in the telecom sector and also the fact that the various telecommunication companies have varying sms rates.
“In addition to this, before we even cut across networks we already have ongoing talks with MTN to provide a subsidized tariff for e-soko,” he said
Byabagambi said that currently, e-soko has registered about 30,000 clients via the sms channel and awareness campaigns are also ongoing along with other sensitization campaigns like branding on buses especially those operating on rural Rwanda routes, as the main focus is rural communities.
The e-soko project will empower farmers to make informed decisions about where to sell their produce and at how much.
“This will ultimately lead to the farmers getting better prices for their produce and therefore higher incomes and improved livelihoods,” the e-Rwanda coordinator, Wilson Muyenzi said recently.
Traditionally, farmers have been relying on middlemen to purchase the farmers’ produce at low prices only to sell the same produce at much higher prices.
The system will therefore give farmers better bargaining power and ultimately more money for their produce.
The program is aimed at facilitating the use of information communication and technology appropriately in line with the government policy to become a knowledge-based economy.