Tech Pioneer Rwanda Is Launching Public Transport Wi-Fi In 2019

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Rwanda will once again prove its reputation as a tech pioneer in Africa when it launches public transport Wi-Fi next year.

The East African nation is set to launch wireless internet access points on buses, with the infrastructure ministry project expected to come online during January 2019, according to ITWebAfrica.

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Public transport buses in the Rwandan capital of Kigali and rural public transport buses across the country will be equipped to allow passengers to access the internet while traveling.

Fourth generation (4G) Wi-Fi connections will be available on buses in the Rwandan capital, while third generation (3G) Wi-Fi will be enabled for those traveling within intercity and rural routes, according to Afrikatech.

Internet access on public transport buses has been tested since 2013, but only in Kigali. This project will now benefit all Rwandans throughout the country who use public transport.

public transport Wi-Fi
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has been called The Digital President for his appreciation of tech. Image – AP – Ronald Zak

Rwanda is also introducing new smart bus shelters with Wi-Fi access, providing commuters with internet access while the wait for the bus to arrive.

In addition, there are plans to incorporate digital payment into the country’s public transport system, so that users can pay for trips without the need for cash.

Public transport Wi-Fi yet another tech focus

This is yet another positive step forward for Rwanda, which has embraced tech in many ways over the years.

Rwanda has invested over $100 million in a 4,500-kilometre fiber network with the aim of becoming an ICT services economy, according to Techcrunch.

It is also introduced a One Laptop Per Child school program, as part of the standard education system within the country.

In 2016 the Global Information Technology Report by the World Economic Forum ranked Rwanda first in government success in ICT promotion, according to ITWebAfrica.

Earlier this year the Africa Tech Summit was successfully hosted in the country, bringing together industry leaders from across the globe including the likes of Facebook, Andela, and Taxify.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, once dubbed “The Digital President,” became the new chairman of the African Union (AU) at the beginning of the year, in part because of his affinity for technology, NewVision reported.

For years, the tech-savvy Rwandan leader has been calling for African governments to drive greater digital adoption and innovation, saying they need to collaborate on solutions for unlocking Africa’s full potential. He remains an example in this regard, and continued improvements such as the public transport Wi-Fi provide further proof of his understanding and appreciation for the value that tech has for the African economy.

The country has also made a point of partnering with global telecoms and tech companies to further the tech needs of its people.

In November Rwanda became the first African country to establish an electronic world trade platform, thanks to collaboration between the East African nation and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, according to ITWebAfrica.

Rwanda President Kagame and Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma formally launched the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) Africa in Rwanda, allowing small businesses in the country to take part in cross-border electronic trade.

An electronic world trade platform is a a private sector-led initiative for public-private dialogue that leads to a more effective and efficient policy and business environment for cross-border electronic trade.

This will assist digital businesses in Rwanda with information about export opportunities, access to trade finance and logistics costs, among other benefits, providing greater access to Rwandan businesses within the e-commerce space.

In 2017 the Rwandan government announced a partnership with Finnish mobile giants Nokia and local company SRG in the deployment of smart city technology solutions throughout the country, according to ITNewsAfrica.

The Rwanda Smart City project sees the government investing in network connectivity and sensor deployment in various applications, which will benefit the people in terms of public safety and waste management, among other areas.

Also in 2017, Rwanda established a partnership with tech giant Microsoft to roll out online education initiatives that are envisaged to become standard across the country in the next few years, according to CNBC Africa.

The giant American multinational technology company is working with the Rwandan authorities in the pursuit of their short and long-term objectives to make Rwanda a digital learning pioneer on the African continent.

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