The 2021 Rwanda Internet Governance Forum (IGF) opened in Kigali with a new call to improve access to internet services as a way of keeping the public informed but also thinking of new ways of protecting children among users.
Government and ICT expert panelists shared internet lessons and skills learned during this covid-19 era in public service delivery, and discussed issues of Child Online Safety among other concerns that come with use of internet.
Yves Iradukunda, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of ICT and Innovation said that Rwanda has made progress in availing services online but the long journey ahead has been more informed by Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have many services available especially on irembo but we are not where we want to be with 100 services online. There is more work needed to be done in educating citizens on these services,” Iradukunda said this November 30, 2021 while opening the forum under a theme: “Internet in post Covid-19 era, Lessons Learned”
According to Iradukunda, more work will require Rwanda to engage more partnerships in disseminating internet based services from Kigali to rural communities.
“We need to create awareness of internet services since there are many programs, incentives and opportunities. We (government) see more of these concentrated in Kigali but also need to consider the rural communities with companies and partners in the sector,” Iradukunda said.
Grace Ingabire, the CEO of Rwanda Internet Community and Technology Alliance (RICTA) said that the pandemic has made Rwandans particularly aware that the Internet is not only essential their personal lives, but is also key to a professional life, which sets precedence to discuss how to better use the internet and protect users.
The forum recognized the role of ICTs in Rwanda’s response to health communication, continued education, and online businesses and services during the pandemic and its subsequent limitations to human movement, but insisted that safety remains a key aspect in the pursuit of lessons learnt.
For instance, Police Spokesman, Commissioner of Police (CP) Jean Bosco Kabera, who was at the forefront of implementing government Covid19 prevention measures said that information through the Internet played a vital role and as Police they were able to reach and communicate with many citizens through the internet.
CP Kabera noted that Rwandans in and outside the country were able to stay updated with information on and in their country, without having to go on TV or radio, and that is something we need to keep up using the Internet to reach many in and outside the country.
“Internet made it easy for us to meet citizens wherever they are and also exchange information, ideas and suggestions. The Internet is a big thing and even after the pandemic we need to see how it can be used properly as a way of communication,” CP Kabera said.
This supposition is proved by the amount of Mobile Penetration Rate and internet consumption that has increased according to data provided by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA).
As of October 2021, the Mobile Penetration Rate (number of active SIM cards per total projected population) was at 85.3%, while internet consumption has moved from 10,000 mbps in 2006, to 61.000 mbps in 2019 and to over 111.000 mbps in 2021.