Rwanda telcos partner with GSMA to drive internet penetration
Rwanda’s mobile industry has joined forces with the GSMA to drive mobile internet adoption and increase digital literacy in the country.
It was announced at the ‘Mobile 360 Africa’ event in Kigali that local operators Airtel and MTN will commence a programme of activity around digital inclusion as part of the GSMA’s We Care initiative in Rwanda.
We Care is launched in collaboration with Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation and the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), supporting government efforts to boost ICT penetration and digital services across the country.
“I am glad to see the mobile operators, Airtel and MTN, coming together to work towards a common goal that will be beneficial to society,” said H.E Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT & Innovation of Rwanda. “Smartphones are important ICT tools that can be used to access key digital services: education and information, healthcare, financial services, amongst others. Increasing digital inclusion in Rwanda will therefore go a long way in empowering our citizens and we are looking forward to a sustainable collaboration.”
“Today’s agreement marks an unprecedented collaborative action by Rwanda’s mobile industry to harness the power of the mobile internet to empower citizens and deliver on the promise of a ‘Digital Rwanda’,” commented Akinwale Goodluck, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA. “Digital skills are a prerequisite for people to get online and enhance their lives through digital services. Through We Care, Airtel and MTN are taking significant steps to accelerate digital inclusion across the country.”
According to GSMA Intelligence, only about one in four citizens in Rwanda currently subscribe to mobile internet services; a lack of digital skills among the population and a perceived lack of locally relevant content are among the key barriers to large-scale adoption.
As part of the We Care initiative, Airtel and MTN will be using the GSMA’s Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit (MISTT) to train sales agents and educate customers on how to access mobile internet services.
The MISTT is a visual, easy-to follow curriculum that helps trainers demonstrate the functionality and value of the internet on internet-enabled mobile phones. It includes modules on Wikipedia, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Google, as well as introductory modules on basics such as internet safety and costs.
Airtel and MTN Rwanda will train 10,000 sales agents in techniques to teach their combined customer base functional digital skills within the first year of the campaign, while the MISTT modules will be adapted to reflect local needs.
Through the GSMA’s We Care initiative, operators around the world are taking steps to ensure their customers are able to enjoy the transformative benefits of mobile technology in a safe and reliable environment.
These in-country campaigns support the mobile industry’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Digital Declaration, allowing operators to drive impact at a local level.
Driven by operators together with the GSMA, We Care campaigns address ten key areas: digital inclusion; child protection; environmental care; disaster response; SMS spam control; mobile privacy; mobile and health; infrastructure deployment; contribution to public safety; and handset theft.
We Care was launched in Latin America in 2014 and is now running 25 campaigns across the region in collaboration with 55 local operators. In Africa, We Care initiatives are already live in Kenya1 and Côte d’Ivoire2.
"Airtel Rwanda is delighted to be collaborating with the GSMA through the We Care campaign, which we believe will deliver wide-ranging benefits to the population of Rwanda. We are committed to ensuring that our customers can get the most out of their service so are always supportive of efforts to promote digital literacy, affordability and accessibility," said Mr. Amit Chawla, CEO, Airtel Rwanda.
“MTN Rwanda’s purpose is to bring the benefits of a modern connected life to all. The conditions to accomplish this are: coverage, handset availability, affordability, services and education. Today we are pleased to be partnering with GSMA through We Care campaign to enhance digital literacy in Rwanda. MTN is also pursuing other efforts to tackle the full range of barriers to digital inclusion, including handset affordability with our recent 3G smartphone ‘Ikosora’,” added Mr. Bart Hofker, CEO of MTN Rwanda.