Reuters has reported that Rwanda has completed construction of a 2,300 kilometre fibre optic network that links the country to undersea cables running along the east African coast. Guy Daniels reports.
The project commenced in October 2009 at a cost of $95 million, and was set up to increase access to broadband services and attract foreign investment through business process outsourcing. Ignace Gatare, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, told Reuters:
"The fibre optic project will initially be operated by an independently-managed government entity on an open access model to accommodate infrastructure sharing with the private ICT services providers. The ultimate goal is to progressively transfer the business to a private business."
Rwanda is a land-locked country with Internet penetration of only 12 per cent. However, Minister Gatare says that the ICT sector in the country generated revenues of 87 billion Rwandan francs in 2009 ($143 million), rising by 12 percent in 2010.
The fibre network connects to undersea cable system at Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salam in Tanzania.
The Minister added:
"Initiatives to activate the links have been launched and discussions between Rwanda telecommunication operators that include MTN Rwanda, Tigo Rwanda and Rwandatel and regional cable operators are ongoing."
At a Senate meeting, the minister was asked to increase the awareness to the population on the importance of the use of ICT and made several recommendations, including;
“To extend ICT infrastructure, especially in rural areas; to put more effort in the use of ICT in all sectors and services; to sensitize the population on cyber security of individual data; and to emphasize the quality of education in ICT.”
Elsewhere, Google has extended its Gmail SMS chat functionality to add three more African countries to its growing coverage list. Mobile users in Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi can now use Google’s email service via SMS texting.
Gmail users can send and receive SMS messages for free using the service. Non-Gmail users can reply via SMS for regular text charging rates. The networks supporting the service are MTN, Uganda Telecom and Orange (Uganda), Vodacom (Tanzania), and Airtel and TNM (Malawi).
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