The Ministry of ICT and Innovation (MINICT) says a total of 16,250 smartphones will be distributed to vulnerable people across the thirty districts of the country under the Connect Rwanda challenge initiative, aiming to “close the digital divide.”
Connect Rwandachallenge campaign seeks to provide every household in Rwanda with a smartphone in a bid to promote basic technology awareness and communication.
According to MINICT, from 15th November to 3rd December 2021, in partnership with MTN Rwanda, a total of 16,250 smartphones will be distributed to households in various parts of the country.
The distribution started in Gicumbi, Bugesera, Gatsibo, Nyabihu, Ngororero, Gisagara and Huye.
“Distributing one smartphone to every household in partnership with MINICT, brings us a step closer to achieving our ambitious goal of closing the digital divide in Rwanda. We are happy to see more pledges coming in, which shows that what we started as an idea has now grown into a movement,” Mitwa Ng’ambi, MTN Rwanda Chief Executive Officer said yesterday.
The Connect Rwanda challenge phase 1 was launched in December, 2019 by MINICT in partnership with MTN Rwanda to create awareness across the country regarding the importance of smartphone ownership.
In the process over 44,000 smartphones were pledged and 24,973 has been given out while 7,670 overall were distributed, according to MINICT.
“I would like to thank all our partners that have walked with us this far. We will continue with Connect Rwanda, through which we will be collaborating with different players in the ICT sector, financing institutions and other device retailers and distributors to introduce sustainable financing models that will facilitate citizens to acquire smartphones,” Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation said.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, smartphones played a great role in providing easy access to information, dissemination of directives on Covid-19 guidelines, among others.
Since inception, connect Rwanda challenge program majorly focused on different segments of people including the unconnected, female farmers, persons with disabilities, individuals in category 1 and 2 of ubudehe, among others.
Connect Rwanda Challenge was launched in 2019 during a meeting when Minister Ingabire said that there are about 2.8 million households in the country and the idea was that each of the households should at least have one smartphone because in essence most services will be enrolled online.
In reaction, President Paul Kagame pledged 1, 500 mobile phones and other officials, individuals and companies took it from there.
MINICT suggests that to address the digital skills gap, recipients should be equipped with basic skills to utilize the mobile phones.
They can be supported by the Digital ambassador program which was founded by MINICT, comprises digital trainers.
According to Ingabire, this effort only succeeds with relevant useful content to the citizens, and as such, a number of Apps relevant to different target groups.