Free Wi-Fi Program Dubbed Smart Kigali Enhancing Rwanda’s Productivity
Kigali can now boast to be one of the most connected cities in Africa thanks to an initiative dubbed Smart Kigali. This initiative is meant to enhance the lifestyle of the Kigali residents and those of visitors through use of ICT. This initiative was brought about by a partnership between the City of Kigali through the Ministry of Youth and ICT (MYICT), Rwanda Utilities & Regulatory Agency (RURA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Restaurant Association and the major Telecom Operators in Rwanda.
The Smart Kigali Initiative was launched on the 20th September 2013, which essentially means that Kigali resident can now have free broadband Wi-Fi Internet access in various public areas across the city. The initiative installed hotspot in various commercial buildings, Airport, bus stations, taxis and public transport vehicles. This initiative improved the level of internet connectivity to a whole new level and with it other technological benefits followed that includes: automated taxi ticketing and meters in public transport and the use of electronic payment systems have been improved immensely.
Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister of Youth and ICT hailed this initiative, “Broadband is there to fast track business, information exchange, information generation and consumption; it’s a foundation of a knowledge economy. I expect this to accelerate out mover from agriculture based economy to a knowledge based economy”. This can be seen as a move by this African country moving away from having agriculture as the backbone of their economy towards becoming an industrialized country starting with ICT. The idea behind having automated taxi meters installed in taxicabs that shows the amount of fare to be charged per trip is meant to protect both the passengers and then drivers from conflicts arising out of fare charges.
Some of the areas within Kigali, which have the free public Wi-Fi, include the Kigali City Tower, Union Trade Center, Remera-Kisementi, Stade Amahoro, Kigali Public Library, KBC, Airport, KIE, Kacyiru Ministere and KIST among others. The internet service providers of this Smart Kigali Initiative include MTN Rwanda, AIRTEL, ISPA, TIGO Rwanda Ltd, BSC Ltd and LIQUID Telecom. This initiative has also enhanced Kigali residents’ use of the Electronic Payment Systems such as ATM’s VISA cards among other electronic payment systems. This initiative has cut out a unique name for Kigali for not only being a clean city but also a smart and connected city.