Report praises govt efforts to improve Internet access

Wednesday April 1 2020

internet

Ninety-five percent of Rwanda is now covered by 4G Internet according to Korea Telecom Rwanda Network, which holds the concession to provide universal mobile broadband services across the country. PHOTO | FILE 

JEAN-PIERRE AFADHALI
By JEAN-PIERRE AFADHALI
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Rwanda has been ranked low on the 2020 Inclusive Internet index but praised for improvement in its strategies to make broadband and information and communiction solutions accessible.

The index, which was commissioned by Facebook and conducted by The Economist intelligent Unit measures the extent to which Internet is accessible and affordable.

The index seeks to assess countries’ performance on internet accessibility and relevance that supports economic and social outcomes at individual and group level. The annual index released recently ranked Rwanda at position 89 out out 100 countries surveyed globally.

In the region, Rwanda was ranked higher than Burundi and Ethiopia. “Rwanda has progressed further than many of its African neighbours in developing strategies for broadband, e-inclusion and spectrum management,” reads the report However, according to the 2020 index, there is alot of work to be done to make Internet inclusive in the country with focus on affordability and the speed of network.

“Implementation of policies leaves something to be desired, however, judging by low scores in all other index pillars. Affordability suffers from relatively high costs of data, for example, and network speeds are relatively low,” read the report.

Data from Rwanda Utilities Regulartory Authority (Rura) shows that Internet subscribers increased in recent years pushed by mobile Internet.

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However, 4 G LTE that offers high speed network users remain low. As of June 2019, figures from Rura show that about 6,2 million people had subscribed to Internet but only 76,000 were connected to 4 G.

In the region Rwanda ranked lower than many East African region countries — Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania — at overall that was measured by four indicators but appears to have done very well on readiness — ranking position 42 — the indicator that measured literacy, trust and safety and policy. Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Burundi were ranked at position 66, 68, 54 and 100 respectively. 

Uganda was ranked at position 26. On availability the country was ranked at position 82, availability (95), relevance (73) and readiness (42).

Index authors said Internet is a tool for unprecedented power but if “the ability to benefit from its use is unevenly distributed; it could serve to deepen inequality.” The index identifies gaps between different population groups and reveals insights into the state of Internet inclusivity for policymakers and other stakeholders.

The study found that mobile data has been a game changer for lower-income groups, but access is still too expensive.

Data from the telecom and utility regulator shows that the majority of users in the country access Internet through mobile devices.

As of June 2019 around 6,200,000 connected to Internet through their mobile devices. Gender gap is also narrowing but still high, noted the report. “Although narrowing, the gender gap in access remains stubbornly wide, particularly in low- and lower-middle-income countries.”

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