Public transport buses in Kigali and rural public transport buses across Rwanda will soon be equipped with Wi-Fi to provide offer passengers internet access, according to the country's Infrastructure Ministry.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2019 according to Rwanda's Minister of State for Transport, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye.
"Tests are ongoing including one hundred percent integrated electronic payment (and) real-time information system across the network," said the Minister.
The project will kick off in January 2019 with the installation of 4G Wi-Fi on buses operating within the country's capital city of Kigali. This will be followed by the installation of 3G Wi-Fi for commuters on intercity routes – but will also be available to those using rural transport services.
In preparation for the rollout in Kigali, Uwihanganye said dedicated bus lanes will be operational once the widening of the track is completed in June 2019.
Rwanda is also introducing new smart bus shelters with Wi-Fi access as well as digital screens.
The project officially started in 2013 when the city of Kigali issued a five-year contract to public transport operators to run the service in the capital. The contract expired in August 2018.
Instead of renewing the contract for Kigali, the government decided to extend the service nationwide.
Over the last five years, the Regulatory Authority of Public Services of Rwanda (RURA) piloted and tested Wi-Fi access on public transport buses in collaboration with selected public transport companies operating in Kigali.
Tech experts said the expansion of the service to rural transport buses affirms the success of the numerous tests conducted.
Authorities also intend to embed digital payment into the country's public transport system.
"All these innovations are aimed at making public transport the preferred mode of transport in the country, reliable, safe and comfortable," said Uwihanganye.
A surcharge of Rwf30 has been worked into commuter fares, but will only be enforced once the service is operational.