The Global System for Mobile communication Association (GSMA) has launched a digital literacy product that will compel Rwanda’s rival telecom companies to work together in increasing data usage among clients at the same time bridge the digital divide.
The product dubbed WeCare Rwanda, launched this Tuesday during the three day 2019 GSMA360 Africa conference in Kigali will focus on training agents to train clients on mobile internet usage and opportunities.
The Rwandan product, third of its kind in Africa, follows two others launched in Kenya on child internet protection and the other in Côte d’Ivoire on mobile phone thefts, each addressing specific needs of these countries.
WeCare, a GSMS initiative was launched in Latin America in 2014 and is now running 25 campaigns across the region in collaboration with 55 local operators in North America, Asia, Europe and Middle East and Northern African regions (MENA).
The GSMA is a private organization that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with over 350 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem.
“I am glad to see the mobile operators, Airtel and MTN, coming together to work towards a common goal that will be beneficial to society,” said Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT & Innovation of Rwanda while signing the partnership agreement in which government will regulate success.
According to GSMA Intelligence, only about one in four citizens in Rwanda currently subscribe to mobile internet services; a lack of digital skills among the population and a perceived lack of locally relevant content are among the key barriers to large-scale adoption.
As part of the We Care initiative, Airtel and MTN will be using the GSMA’s Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit (MISTT) to train sales agents and educate customers on how to access mobile internet services.
The MISTT is a visual, easy-to follow curriculum that helps trainers demonstrate the functionality and value of the internet on internet-enabled mobile phones. It includes modules on Wikipedia, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Google, as well as introductory modules on basics such as internet safety and costs.
Airtel and MTN Rwanda will train 10,000 sales agents in techniques to teach their combined customer base functional digital skills within the first year of the campaign, while the MISTT modules will be adapted to reflect local needs.
The argument is that with a knowledgeable and skilled client base, this will enable the companies to increase data users from current 25% up take to at least 75% according to GSMA officials.
“We are not doing this for money but to support telecoms to address needs in the mobile telecommunication sector,” said Gerald Rasugu, the Director Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA Mobile for Development.
Currently MTN and Airtel are neck-on-neck grabbing clients in the telecom service sector after the latter having merged its service with former telecom-Tigo Rwanda in 2017, to claim a clientele of 4,511,745 active users while the former being the pioneer telecom company has 4,814,522 subscribers as of March 2019.
At the end of May 2019, MTN Rwanda recorded 53% of the market share in mobile telephone subscriptions whereas Airtel/Tigo Rwanda Ltd had 47%.
As Rwanda prepares for 5G internet by 2020, the We Care initiative for both CEO’s of MTN and Airtel Rwanda, will increase clients using their data and internet based services which stands 6,149,425 total users- with 3,611,714 for MTN Rwanda and 2,339,102 for Airtel Rwanda.
“This is not a competition but rather highly needed partnership with MTN. We have proposed to government to further cut the charges on data usage so that we can provide cheaper and affordable internet data in Rwanda, ” said Amit Chawla, CEO of Airtel-Rwanda.
For MTN Rwanda the purpose of joining the initiative is to bring the benefits of a modern connected life to all and the conditions to accomplish are through better coverage, handset availability, affordability, services and education.
“MTN is also pursuing other efforts to tackle the full range of barriers to digital inclusion, including handset affordability with our recent 3G smartphone ‘Ikosora’ said Bart Hofker CEO of MTN Rwanda.