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Rwanda stands out for mobile broadband coverage

Rwanda stands out for mobile broadband coverage

A report by a UN Working Group on Broadband for the Most Vulnerable Countries has shown that Rwanda is close to achieving universal coverage of mobile broadband.

The Broadband for national development in four LDCs: Cambodia, Rwanda, Senegal and Vanuatu report, launched last week, suggests that high-speed internet plays a valuable role in helping Least Developed Countries (LDC) overcome vulnerabilities and grow economies.

In Rwanda, it is a mix of local access competition, wholesale public-private partnerships (PPP) interventions and a regulated market dominated by the incumbent operator in Senegal.

The country's model has resulted in the highest level of mobile broadband coverage. Though Rwanda deployed the first wholesale 4G/LTE network in the world as a PPP between the government and Korea Telecom in 2014, the government has been willing to intervene in wholesale markets to ensure open and cost-based access to key facilities.

Of the four LDCs, Rwanda is reportedly building a 4G/LTE wireless broadband network that will cover 95% of its population by 2018. This builds on the over 90% of the Rwandan population that have been covered by a 3G signal in 2016 compared to 75% in Senegal.

Senegal's use of PPPs to achieve broadband access for its citizens has been effective, the report notes.

Research touts Rwanda as the most advanced in providing online services to citizens citing its 25-year PPP agreement with Rwanda Online Platform Limited (ROPL) for managing an online government services portal which helps provide over 30 services including birth certificates to driving tests in some 90,000 transactions a month.

The landlocked country is now making effort to drive users from smartphone apps and social media to searching for relevant information, use and create content through its Digital Ambassador programme. If successful, it could serve as a model for other LDCs.

Rwanda and Senegal are looking towards special zones - US$1 billion Kigali Innovation City (KIC) and Senegal's Digital Technology Park – to create a large computer and information services industry.

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