MTN Rwanda could have started a revolution in Rwanda with their Connect Rwanda Challenge, a campaign that calls on Rwandans and organizations to voluntarily pledge smartphones to those who don’t own one.
It began with the CEO, Mitwa Kaemba Ng’ambi, pledging 1000 smart phones from MTN and 100 individually. She then challenged President Kagame to make his own pledge, to which he responded with a pledge of 1500 smart phones.
His family also took up the challenge, collectively pledging an additional 88 phones.
I am happy to support the #ConnectRwanda challenge with a pledge of 1500 Made-in-Rwanda @MaraPhones. Smartphones should not be a luxury item. Let's challenge ourselves to make smartphones an everyday tool enabling all Rwandans to fulfill their potential.
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) December 21, 2019
By press time, MTN had registered roughly 25,000 phones pledged by various individuals and organizations with the first three days of the campaign.
At a press conference on Monday evening, held jointly by MTN Rwanda and Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the MTN CEO said the essence of the campaign is for private companies, government institutions and individuals to come together and drive the digital agenda to connect all Rwandans to the digital world.
She stated that so far, more than a dozen institutions, as well as individuals, have joined the challenge and made pledges.
Banks operating in Rwanda for example, including Bank of Kigali, Equity Bank, I&M, Cogebanque, Ecobanque, Equity, BNR collectively pledged a total of 6500 smartphones.
The @BankofKigali family is happy to support the #ConnectRwanda challenge. The Group is pledging 1500 #MadeinRwanda smartphones and our staff are pledging 500 phones. @RwEquityBank @hbnamara will you join us? The #RwandaWeWant is connected! https://t.co/7wQhZp0nE5
— DKarusisi (@dkarusisi) December 22, 2019
The challenge has also been joined by individuals in Rwanda and around the world pledging to put a smartphone in the hands of the unconnected.
I fully endorse the #ConnectRwanda initiative, which opens incredible opportunities for all, particularly young people. I will contribute 15 smartphones. Can I count on plenty of good apps en français, s’il vous plaît 😊!! ? https://t.co/7ndUGvsxtT
— Louise Mushikiwabo (@LMushikiwabo) December 22, 2019
Speaking at the Press conference, the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Musoni Paula said, “Connect Rwanda Challenge complements multiple efforts in place to ensure broadband for all is achieved, where a smartphone is a basic tool to achieve that ambition.
Smartphones collected through this challenge will be given to families that are not able to afford a smartphone. #ConnectRwanda challenge provides an opportunity to narrow the digital inclusion gap, making it possible for all Rwandans to access services easily.”
Rwanda intends to become an upper middle income society by 2030, fueled by information communication technology.
However, such an ambitious plan can only be achieved when Rwandans are connected and with basic tools such as a smartphone.
Only 1.7 million out of the 9.5 million simcards are in smartphones.
The #ConnectRwanda challenge attempts to adress this issue by promoting and accelerating digital adoption in Rwanda, through an increase in smartphone penetration and internet usage.
With time, the ambition would be for every Rwandan to own a smart phone.