Rwanda sets 3-year target for 4G LTE Internet coverage


PRICES WILL DROP: Rwanda’s Minister for Youth and ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana

Rwanda has set yet another ambitious target to have all communities countrywide have access to  Fourth Generation Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE) Internet by the end of 2017.

Rwanda launched the 4G LTE Internet six months ago under a private-public partnership deal by the government and Korea Telecom, and the high-speed 4G broadband network was expected to cover 95 per cent of the Rwandan population in the next three years.

The 4G LTE high speed internet program has since faced hurdles as service providers complain the costs are unaffordable and clients say the service was not economically viable for small and medium-size enterprises but the ministry of Youth and Information Communication Technology (ICT), now says that there has been a relative improvement in its use.

Currently, the market pricing of monthly subscription with bundles of up to 100GB costs an average of Frw350, 000 ($507.25)  while 200GB costs Rwf690, 000 ($1000) but the ministry says this could drop in the future.

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister for Youth and ICT said this target will be possible because in three years’ time the costs will be low compared to today and as a result all residents with internet gadgets will be able to access 4G LTE Internet easily.

Despite these targets and government spending billions on the broad band project, Rwandans still use the 2G and 3G internet which is also relatively slow and in most cases not reliable for business.

The government of Rwanda announced early this year, that it is considering strategies on how to revise downwards the retail prices of the recently launched 4G LTE Internet by at least 50 per cent to address the low interest in the technology.

Rwanda just hosted a three day 14th Africa edition of broadband forum, which opened in Kigali on May 6, with more than 50 delegates from over 15 countries meeting to discuss real world practices and examples to draw on as they hope to overcome obstacles to establishing reliable high speed internet access.

Rwanda became the fourth country to host the event in Africa after Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.