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Rwanda | Phone revolution: Mobile phones changing lives in Rwanda

24 July, at 11 : 38 AM Print

Mobile phones changing lives inThe coming of mobile phones in Rwanda has been the most magical and amazing thing that has transformed Rwandans.

A mere phone has changed millions of Rwandan lives and enhanced communication with just a phone call. The multi-purpose phones have served revolutionary roles in almost all aspects of life. Go to entertainment, business, health, communication, name it, the phone is one significant thing that has made things easy.

Salvatore Mugabo is a living testimony of how a phone can transform life. The 28 year old, Kigali motor-cyclist praises his phone for hooking and keeping him in touch with customers.

“I don’t know where I would be without my cell phone, I use it to access my customers with just a single touch on the dial button,” Mugabo says.

“My clients can access me at any time, be it day or night. This has of course boosted my business,” he adds.

If it wasn’t for the phone, Mugabo is afraid he wouldn’t have permanent customers, how else would they communicate?

Besides business, Mugabo utilizes his phone’s multiple functions to his advantage.

“Whenever I am not busy with traffic, I watch a movie or use internet on my phone. I am familiar with facebook and all these other social networks,” boasts Mugabo.

Mugabo just a part of the bigger picture of Rwandans who use the phone for entertainment like watching movies, music and accessing internet.

Many young people in Rwanda spend quality time on phone internet. Phones have answered questions for an elite group who choose to protect their eyes from the damage caused by computers, pre-paid internet connection and an alert incase of emails is available in tele-communication houses and people are effectively using it, thanks to available phone gadgets the likes of blackberries and galaxy family.

For Mugume, the phone has been the biggest revolution that Rwandans have had in the past 20 years.  He says that the phone means a lot to the modern society and though it has reduced the way people relate in respect to the Rwandan cultural values, the society is on the ‘run’ and the mobile phone moves every single segment of our society today.

“Without a phone, one can almost do nothing. You cannot get a job, you cannot access news on radio or internet, and your friends will basically be distant- which is an new social phenomenon that obliges everyone to follow through- you want it or not”

This is very evident, every the senior citizens in the rural areas of Rwanda has actually bowed to the ‘new phone world’ phenomenon- so as to keep in touch with their families, for support and even information exchange between the family in the village and that in the city.

To this regard, the government has set sights on having at least eight million Rwandan mobile phone subscribers and five million internet users by 2016. The government is banking on the power of ICT to help give the country a middle-income status by 2020.

At the moment, statistics indicate that Rwanda has a 41.6 per cent mobile penetration rate, according to the latest figures from the national regulator, Rura.

Access to mobile phone Communication was considered as a luxury and a social class in the early 90’s when the first phone appeared on the Rwandan market.  Phones used to be sold by the then Communication giant company- MTN Rwanda and these were sold at very high prices, especially that only Nokia brands were trending on world markets.

The government also through the National ICT project (NICI 1 plan), projected the increase of mobile access to all Rwandans, introducing community phones, and cheaper mobile phones on the market, which was also followed by support policies of non- taxation on ICT equipment imported to the country since 2003.

Such policies, combined with the surge of cheap Chinese and Indian phone technology have flooded the Rwandan market with more fashion designs and calibers of mobile phones which everyone can afford at the less than $30 dollars.

Now that phone shops are everywhere you go, and are cheap, every one almost poses a phone. From the big offices to the markets, church, schools, transporters, cleaners, street hawkers,

Today in Rwanda, there are three major mobile communication companies- MTN, Tigo and Airtel’s arrival will be seen as a major boost for the government’s target of 60 per cent mobile penetration rate by the end of 2012.

Under Vision 2020, Rwanda seeks to build a knowledge-based economy and to become a regional services hub. The country has made significant investments in the ICT infrastructure, including the laying of the optic fiber cable, for more reliable, affordable and faster internet connectivity.

Phones is Rwanda have not only been used to make phone calls and talk to family, set up appointments. They (phones) have been an integral aspect of business sector and service provision especially for banks, flight companies, courier services, and even hotels, and also daily household transactions and bills- like electricity, water, and Mobile money transfers

The mobile money has changes the economy. The most imminent and forceful megatrend is the rise of mobile money in Africa. Being able to store money securely on a mobile phone and transfer it from one to another has tremendous added value.

The pioneering service of MTN Mobile money has now been adopted by other communication companies in Rwanda, as a crucial service to their clients. was set up in

There is no set-up fee for the customer and when he or she receives the money, it can be used immediately. Per transaction, a low fee is being charged. The process of sending money is about as difficult as topping up airtime and is based on the same technology.

M-money offers mobile operators the opportunity to increase their revenues while also positioning themselves attractively. The number of M-money subscribers had grown to almost 12 million by July 2010 from 7 million in July 2009. Since 2007, total transactions amount to 525.84 billion Kenyan shillings or 6.5 billion US dollars, and there are now

The spread of communications technology will have an impact on agriculture. The most immediate impact is related to the mobile phone revolution. African farmers and traders can quickly and affordably exchange information about potential sources of demand and supply, increasing market and production efficiency.

The health sector and disaster preparedness in Rwanda has also been boosted by the use of mobile phone. Community based Health workers can now communicate with the hospitals in case of emergencies that need an ambulance, and so do the disaster management committees at village levels being able to pass on security alerts for government intervention.

The government of Rwanda has invested in donating free mobile phones for all volunteer health workers and disaster management committee at the basic administrative levels countywide.






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