Rwanda ‘Smart Kigali’ Initiative Provides Free Internet Throughout City

Rwanda ‘Smart Kigali’ Initiative Provides Free Internet Throughout City

Depending on where residents of Kigali are walking, riding through or lurking — they may be lucky enough to benefit from the city’s new tech initiative. According to The New Times, the program launched September 20 grants free wi-fi access to those in areas including restaurants, King Faisa hospital, Nyabugogo Taxi Park, commercial buildings and public buses.

Part of the ‘Smart Kigali’ initiative aims to allow visitors and tourists easy access to city landmarks and mapping while being able to utilize convenience services on the web. Collectively, internet providers Tigo and Airtel, the City of Kigali, the Rwanda Development Board and the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency made the project possible, according to The New Times.

“Smart Kigali will significantly contribute towards delivering better services. We want internet broadband to be accessible for everyone to be able to access information anytime,” Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister for Youth and ICT told The New Times.

Wi-fi signals and hotspots were installed based on the amount of people who frequent an area. A listing of internet accessible buildings and locations was issued, the report said, prior to the launch.

“This is a public-private partnership; internet service providers and the government will foot the bill, Nsengimana continued. “The most important thing is to create a market by just giving people the ability to test. You test what is broadband and then you go and buy it in case you come across where there is no free wireless broadband.”

Though ‘Smart Kigali’ is largely a government effort to push ICT development further, the UN’s Broadband Commission for Digital Development 2013 report revealed that only eight percent of the country’s citizens use the internet on a regular basis.

Kigali residents commended the state’s effort, however few are sure if the initiative will evolve into the technological catalyst that convinces citizens to purchase and use the internet everyday.

“I think these internet service providers have invested a lot in these facilities in the different areas yet many Rwandans neither have smart phones nor laptops,” Beata Ingabire, a student, said in the report. “I foresee it only being used by the few who have the devices.”