The distribution of pledged smartphones by well wishers kicked off yesterday in Rutsiro district considered to be the least digitally connected part of Rwanda.
Jubilation and engulfed residents of Rutsiro District during a joyful exercise of distribution of 1000 smartphones to vulnerable members of the community.
Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) is the first institution to fulfill its pledge of 500 MaraPhone Mara X worth Rwf50 million as the connect Rwanda exercise rolls out.
On average, each phone costs around Rwf112,800. Other brands could cost less and many will be part of those to be distributed.
About 50,000 pieces have been pledged so far.
Accoding to BRD, as the launch of national smart phone per family campaign dubbed “Connect Rwanda” begins today, the first round of distribution will cater for households without a cellphone at all.Once that is done, those with feature phones will also be served next.
The campaign aims to ensure that each household in the country owns at least a smartphone by the end of 2020.
There are 2.88 million households in the country, according to official figures.
Among the beneficiaries included a number of women in cooperatives across the country in seven Districts; Rutsiro, Karongi, Nyaruguru, Nyamasheke, Nyamagabe, and Nyagatare.
Since most vulnerable households are in rural areas, where literacy levels are low, one of the extra services that comes with these phones is basic training for the beneficiaries.Indeed before the distribution of the phones on Thursday, a training workshop was held a day before.
Trainings were held in all sectors of Rutsiro district (Manihira, Gihango, Murunda, Rusebeya, Mushubati) to prepare the first time smartphone owners on how to use them.
The training also included how to use the internet, whatsapp, and services such as Irembo to access public services easily.
What a fulfilling day this is proving to be!! 1,000 smartphones handed over to their new owners!
— Mitwa Kaemba Ng'ambi (@mkngambi) February 13, 2020
The phones were handed over by the Minister of ICT and innovation, Paula Musoni, BRD CEO Pichette Kanyonga, Western Province Governor, Alphonse Munyenwari, MTN CEO, Mitwa Kaemba Ng’ambi, and other delegates.“How to mobilise an entire country to donate smartphones for the unconnected, then distribute 1000 handsets in a dignified manner in 30minutes!! Wow !! Rutsiro my home district mwatubereye imfura!! A lesson in humanity,” said BRD CEO (pictured below).“There is something in enabling each other, today we have seen industry-wide collaborations to create brighter lives for Rutsirod dstrict courtesy of #ConnectRwanda initiative,” MTN CEO said.
“It is surely a sentimental moment as smartphones are being handed over. We’re good together,” she said.
Each phone comes with an MTN simcard and an initial internet package of 1GB.
— MTN Rwanda (@MTNRwanda) February 13, 2020
Augustin Munyagisenyi, one of the beneficiaries, is a health community worker. He said the phone will help him perform better.
“I have been filling my reports in write ups only, now I can begging attaching images,” he said, with a warm smile on his face.
The connect Rwanda challenge was initiated by MTN Rwanda in conjunction with the Ministry of ICT and innovation.
Many other institutions and individuals including the first family have since joined the challenge.
Thank you to my family for accepting my challenge to play your part to #ConnectRwanda & donating @MaraPhones: Jeannette donated: 27 & my children: Ivan:23, @AngeKagame&Bertrand:15,Ian:15, Brian(with money saved from his internship):5, Jeannette’s niece,Nana(still in university):3
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) December 23, 2019