MTN Rwanda introduces extended warranty and repair services for smartphones

MTN Rwandacell Plc (MTN Rwanda) has introduced extended warranty and repair services for all customers that purchase smartphones from any MTN Service Centre. This service is launching soon after MTN Rwanda’s announcement that it would be launching a device financing initiative in partnership with Bank of Kigali, offering customers the opportunity to buy brand new smartphones on credit.

MTN Rwanda’s extended warranty offers customers additional protection for any smartphone purchased at any MTN Service Centre or Connect Shop and also for any smartphone a customer has owned for less than three (3) years, upon the purchase of a screen protector and/or phone case for that existing phone. The warranty is for a period of twelve (12) months.

MTN Rwanda is also offering customers one free repair of their smartphones if any fault develops during the warranty period. For any additional repairs, customers will receive an eighty per cent (80%) discount on the repair costs.

“Smartphones are the gateway to unlimited information and an array of digital services, and we want to ease the process of owning and maintaining one. For a lot of our customers, smartphones are the first big-expense item they purchase for themselves, meaning screen protectors and phone cases are a must-have given the durability of smartphones. The idea of introducing an MTN extended warranty and repair service went without saying. This is part of our commitment to ensure that as we connect everyone to the digital world, we think of the entire customer journey and offer our customers peace of mind,” said Yaw Ankoma Agyapong, MTN Rwanda Chief Consumer & Digital Officer.

The extended warranty (beyond what is covered in the manufacturer warranty) insures against accidental damage, cracked screens, cracked casing, water and liquid damage as well as malfunction after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.

MTN Rwanda’s repair service offers top-notch diagnoses at designated MTN Service Centres. Customers located in Kigali will have their phones repaired within 3 days and those located upcountry will have their phones repaired within 5 days.

“We look forward to our customers enjoying this service as we continue to pursue the delivery of digital solutions for Rwanda’s progress,” concluded Agyapong.

www.mtn.co.rw

[Rwanda] The Internet Society Pledges to Expand Internet Access in Africa

As the Internet Society (ISOC) celebrates its 30th anniversary as a global nonprofit advocating for an open, globally-connected Internet, the organization is calling for accelerated action to further Internet development throughout the African region. During the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) 2022 taking place from in Kigali, Rwanda under the theme “Connecting the unconnected to achieve sustainable development”, Dawit Bekele, Regional Vice President of the Internet Society in Africa, lauded the progress made by stakeholders in expanding access throughout the continent, while encouraging more collaborative efforts to bridge the digital divide.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest growth in global Internet penetration, increasing from less than 1% in 2000 to 30% today.  Between 2019 and 2021 Internet use in Africa jumped by 23%. Despite this impressive growth, there is still a coverage gap of over 840 million people who don’t have access to reliable and affordable Internet access.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the value of Internet connectivity which has been an essential lifeline for the continuity of business, healthcare, education, government, and other critical activities. We applaud the significant investments in the last decades to develop Internet infrastructure, which have made the Internet available to more people across the continent. However, the pandemic also highlights the digital divide that remains, particularly in rural, remote and even urban areas around the world,” said Dawit Bekele.

In Kenya specifically, the rapid pace of Internet ecosystem development since 2012 underscores the critical role that Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and the accompanying infrastructure play in the establishment of strong and sustainable Internet ecosystems. The Internet Society has conducted technical capacity training on Internet routing technologies for network operators in Kenya and supported the development of community networks including TunapandaNET in Kibera, AHERI in Kisumu, and Lanet-Umoja in Nakuru. 

It’s through such initiatives and collaboration from the government that has propelled an increase of the number of internet users from 0.4% in 2012 to 41.9% of the population in 2020 with nearly 70% of traffic localized. Localizing Internet traffic has led to significant cost savings for participating networks and puts the country in a strong position to participate in the digital economy.

Community networks are a way to help address the digital divide.  They are communications infrastructures built, managed, and used by local communities and are a sustainable solution to address connectivity gaps in underserved regions. The Internet Society has a long history of working with communities worldwide to fund, build and train people with the skills needed to run and maintain community networks.

In Africa, the Internet Society has helped build community networks in South Africa, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Namibia, Morocco, Senegal, and Ethiopia. 

At WTDC, the organization will be making a pledge to support 100 complementary solutions to connect the unconnected, and to train 10,000 people to build and maintain Internet infrastructure, all by 2025 as part of the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition, an initiative led by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that aims to foster meaningful connectivity and digital transformation in the hardest-to-connect communities around the world.

Also vital to expanding the Internet throughout Africa is the interconnection between local networks, content providers, and users. Currently, millions of dollars are spent every year to route local Internet traffic through expensive international links. This not only makes the Internet slower and more costly for Internet users, but it also limits the kinds of applications that can run on the local Internet. For this reason, the Internet Society has been at the forefront of supporting the establishment and growth of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) that enable and encourage local traffic.

ISOC research shows that IXPs improve the end-user experience, lower the cost of access, and stimulate the development of local Internet ecosystems and cross-border interconnections. By improving local Internet services and reducing their costs, well-managed IXPs open new worlds of possibility with modest investment.

Digital Cooperation Organization completes inaugural Rwanda Visit and launches Global Roundtable Series

A delegation from the Digital Cooperation Organization concluded the organization’s inaugural visit to Rwanda by announcing the DCO Global Roundtable Series, an initiative that will bring together global digital economy leaders to develop an action plan for digital prosperity for all.

During her participation at the World Telecommunications Development Conference, DCO Secretary-General Ms. Deemah AlYahya announced the DCO’s pledge to hold the DCO Global Roundtable Series across five continents, with the first edition of the series commencing on the African continent in Kigali. The event included more than thirty-five government, international organization and private sector leaders, discussing challenges to emerging market growth, and best-practice collaboration between governments, the private sector and civil society.

Ms Deemah AlYahya commenced the inaugural roundtable event by stating:

“Talking about digital economy issues is no longer something new. We must develop action plans and a roadmap to create an impact for people, and this is indeed what the DCO is doing. We are bringing together people who share the same responsibility, to translate their vision into on the ground change that advances the development of the digital economy of their countries.”

The inaugural Roundtable began with a discussion between Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT, who hosted the DCO delegation. She commented:

“I am delighted to welcome the DCO to Kigali this week, and to share with them our pioneering achievements in the digital economy and ICT sector more generally. Since joining the DCO six months ago, Rwanda has played a pivotal role in the organization and we look forward to our continued membership of the wider DCO ecosystem as we shape a future in which all members of society can harness the power of the digital economy.”

Along the side lines of WTDC, the DCO also met with HE Usula Owusu, Minister of Communications in Ghana, where AlYahya and Minister Owusu discussed Ghana’s inspiring perspective on digital prosperity for all. Secretary-General AlYahya also met with the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies of South Africa, Khumbudzo Ntshaveheni, where they discussed their mutual efforts in enabling digital prosperity for all.

While in Rwanda, the DCO also met with Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, as well as hosting entrepreneurs across the Rwandan ecosystem at Norrsken House. The DCO further met with the Bank of Kigali, kLab Rwanda, and Rwanda’s Information Society Authority. Secretary-General Deemah AlYahya also delivered an address to the Carnegie Mellon University Africa, the African Leadership University and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences.  

Secretary-General Deemah AlYahya also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SmartAfrica, the alliance representing more than 30 African countries on their journey towards digital socioeconomic development and which is chaired by the President of Rwanda Mr. Paul Kagame. The agreement reaffirms the two organization’s shared commitment to promoting digital prosperity in their respective member states.

www.minict.gov.rw

www.dco.org

Market creating-innovation bootcamp opportunity for Rwandans

We’re excited to announce that the session of the Market-Creating Innovation Bootcamp from The Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship at MIT, the Clayton Christensen Institute, and Ventures Platform is happening in Rwanda on 2022 June 27, 28 & 29.

The Market-Creating Innovation (MCI) Bootcamp is an eight-session learning program designed to empower innovators with principles and frameworks necessary to create new markets that make products affordable. The MCI Bootcamp is best suited for early-stage entrepreneurs with an operating business. The Bootcamp curriculum will be taught over a three-day period. Following the Bootcamp training, participants will join a network of market-creating innovators across Africa and have access to customized learning sessions with experts and entrepreneurs.

Application Deadline: May 16, 2022

Boot-camp: J2022 June 27, 28, 29

Bootcamp Participant Eligibility Criteria / Target Audience:
 Early-stage entrepreneur with established business or idea
 Willingness and eagerness to learn
 At an early enough stage in their venture where they can apply the lessons to their business model (seed stage)
 Founder or top management team member. We encourage Founders to apply and participate.
 Venture is operating in Rwanda, candidate can be Rwandan citizen or resident
 Ability to participate in sessions over 3 days
 Fluency in English

 If you have questions, please contact the MCI Bootcamp team at  mci.bootcamp.help@minict.gov.rw

CLICK HERE TO APPLY

www.minict.gov.rw

[Rwanda] CcHUB and Google unveil 9 Startups selected for the Fintech Incubation Programme

Nigeria’s technology innovation centre Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) in collaboration with Google, Ministry of ICT and Innovation Rwanda, and Mojaloop Foundation has announced the nine startups selected for the Fintech Incubation Programme. 

The Fintech Innovation Project which consists of the Fintech Incubation Programme and other developmental programmes is a part of the ongoing efforts to turn Rwanda into the Fintech hub for Africa with Mojaloop as the national payments switch. The programme aligns with Rwanda’s ambition to drive inclusive economic development by leveraging technology.

The selected startups are

  • KudiBooks; a payment and accounting software for non-finance and non-accounting professionals targeting SMEs across Africa. They help users send and receive payments from their preferred financial institution within Kudibooks.
  • Food Bundles; is leveraging digital technology to improve market links for smallholder farmers and meet the growing demand for fresh food produce. The platform helps farmers participate in e-commerce, get paid on their mobile money, and more! 
  • Quiqpay; is leveraging digital technology to improve market links for smallholder farmers and meet the growing demand for fresh food produce. The platform helps farmers participate in e-commerce, get paid on their mobile money, and more! 
  • Bafana.io; This amazing startup is giving over 1200 African artists and creatives a personal page where they can easily share their work and a digital wallet to collect tips/payments from their fans around the world.
  • Uplus Mutual Partners (Uplus); is a digital group financing platform where people can efficiently raise funds and savings with their family, friends, and colleagues. 
  • PesaChoice; is a financial technology company that focuses on data-based lending. The startup offers short term loans without the requirement of collateral.
  • CentWise; aims to unlock financial access for micro traders such as street vendors and hawkers by building alternative collateral products. The company converts financial data into bankable profile insights.
  • PayingTone; is a marketplace that provides ecologically trackable products and services on credit. The platform brings a digital product passport technology to enable a gamified ecological footprint tracker for recurring consumption customers.
  • Exuus; is a FinTech company working towards achieving universal financial inclusion for both the unserved and underserved through technology. The company’s flagship product SAVE is a digital & inclusive wallet that allows users to manage both their savings (individually and/or in saving groups) and spendings.

Over the next three months, CcHUB will be supporting the teams to achieve product stability and scalability, market readiness and investment. They will be able to leverage mentorship from industry and domain experts while taking advantage of Google products and Mojaloop.

This first cohort of the program will conclude with a demo day in July, 2022 where the startups will present to investors through the CcHUB syndicate. 

cchubnigeria.com

Rwanda launches Fourth Industrial Revolution Center

The Rwandan government has consistently and deliberately worked to nurture progressive technology-oriented ideas from its youthful population.

In 2019, the country launched a locally built-from-scratch high-tech smartphone, the first of its kind in Africa.  Made by the Mara Group, the Mara X model and the Mara Z model became the first smartphones fully built in Africa.

The recent launch of Center for The Fourth Industrial Revolution(C4IR) marks yet another milestone for Rwanda’s technology space. The Center is expected to accelerate the country’s digital uptake by acting as a hub for innovation and growth.

“The vision of this centre is to shape the trajectory of Rwanda’s digital transformation through progressive technology governance that is agile and human-centered, in order to respond to the most pressing challenges for us as a country and for the broader benefit of Africa. “ Said Paul Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation.

The project was undertaken in partnership with the World Economic Forum(WEF), part of its mission being to help in the formulation of the country’s laws and policies regarding artificial intelligence.

“The launch of this center is enabled by investments that we, as a country, have been making in science and technology. I hope the centre will build on this by making the Fourth Industrial Revolution an equalising force, and contributing solutions to some of today’s most pressing challenges. We are very happy to have the World Economic Forum as a partner in this crucial and other endeavours,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame during the launch of C4IR.

Rwanda has seen substantial growth in its technology uptake, making it a competitive hub for investors. Efforts by the government and its partners to support innovation have seen a sharp rise in innovative products meant to solve various challenges for the country and the continent.

“Our continent has a unique competitive advantage which stems from an undeniably entrepreneurial spirit that is built-in to our young generations.” Said Ingabire. “Through focused investment and policymaking, we can harness this spirit to solve problems that address underserved communities who make up the majority of the world’s population.”

www.c4ir.rw

[Rwanda] SADA kicks off with launch of first National digital academy

Smart Africa’s capacity building arm, The Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA) in partnership with Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation have launched a national digital academy in the country, marking the official kick off of in-country implementation of the initiative. The agreement is contained within a MOU signed today between the Smart Africa Alliance and the Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT. This follows the continental launch of SADA that took place in the Republic of Congo last month.

A pan-African dynamic learning ecosystem, SADA aims to improve digital skills qualifications, employability, and meet the emerging talent needs of African citizens. The national digital academy will support the uniquely identified digital skills priority needs at the national level. Furthermore, such national digital academies will soon be rolled out in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Tunisia.

In 2021 ahead of this official launch, SADA implemented capacity building activities in Rwanda where more than 500 security forces were trained under SADA’s ICT Skills & Capacity Building Spectrum. 461 command students and staff in Gako as well as 71 Senior Officials in Nyakinama were enrolled and successfully completed a training in Digital Literacy which covered modules such as Computer and online essentials, online elaboration and cyber security.

As part of next steps, Smart Africa and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation will continue to engage with the key stakeholders to implement the identified initiatives under the SADA Rwanda framework.
Planned initiatives include training and certification of Government technicians in advanced computing, training of teachers and Agri entrepreneurs as well as regulators, with the support of partners such as GIZ, World Bank, Intel, HPE.

Commenting on the launch, Mr. Lacina Koné, the Director General and CEO of Smart Africa said: “Rwanda is one of the pioneers of digital adoption and has been doing an amazing job in improving digital skills for its citizens. We are pleased to contribute positively to the nation capacity building through the launch of SADA in Rwanda.”

“Digital skills are the cornerstone of the digital transformation that we seek to attain. Our partners recognize that as proven by their vital support to this important initiative,” he added.

Hon. Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation who graced the launch thanked Smart Africa and said “We welcome this transformative partnership with Smart Africa and we are delighted to be among the seven countries where this programme was piloted. Rwanda is keen to develop digital skills across the entire spectrum and we hope to leverage this programme to equip our citizens with digital skills in different sectors to increase their participation in the digital economy.”

Since its start of operation in August 2020, focusing on the Capacity Building for Decision Makers (CBDM) module, SADA has trained over 2,000 policy and decision-makers across 26 countries in trending digital transformation topics including Artificial Intelligence Use Cases, 5G Connectivity, Data Protection & Privacy, Rural Broadband Policies, Security Technologies, Regulatory and Innovative Sandboxing Environments, Data Centers and Cloud, Digital Identity for Underserved, ePayment, etc. The objective is to reach over 22,000 trained beneficiaries by 2023, supported by the SADA In-country implementation wave.

www.minict.gov.rw

MTN Rwanda launches brand refresh in line with Ambition 2025 strategy

MTN Rwandacell Plc (MTN Rwanda), has rebranded to reflect its evolution from Rwanda’s most valuable telecommunications provider to the nation’s leading digital technology company.  It is only the second brand overhaul since the mobile operator’s entry in 1998, the previous refresh being in 2004.

The rebrand reflects MTN Group’s commitment to its Ambition 2025 strategy to build leading digital platforms that enable Africa’s progress across the telecom, fintech, infrastructure, API and content and messaging ecosystem.

Kicking off with a thought-provoking and simple question, “What are we doing today?”, the brand refresh promises to be a trigger reappraisal of MTN Rwanda as more than just a telco.  In developing and designing its brand refresh, MTN is responding to the reality that whilst it was born into the analog era, its customers today spend much of their time in the social and digital world.  The new brand identity and its expression is modern, simple, bold, and digitally dynamic.

Through its delivery of Ambition 2025 MTN Rwanda aims to accelerate growth and unlock the value of its infrastructure assets and platforms. A pioneer of progress from the beginning, the brand refresh reasserts MTN Rwanda’s role as a technology leader in Rwanda and its role in accelerating progress through the simple act of doing.

Mitwa Ng’ambi, MTN Rwanda Chief Executive Officer said, “ICT and digital transformation are at the forefront of Rwanda’s development and its only right that we aren’t left behind as a mobile operator.  We’ve been growing with the country for the past 23 years and therefore, we too must make the shift from an analog based telco to a digitally based techo. This move has been in the works for quite some time now, for example with the digitalization of our distribution channel and we are pleased to unveil this fresh look and way of doing business to our valued customers and stakeholders as we steer towards leading digital solutions for Rwanda’s progress.”

MTN Rwanda has always been inspired by the belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. With a clear and concise brand strategy that ‘Opportunity + Energy = Progress’, the Company understands that to truly unlock the full benefits and potential of the digital world, it requires a combination of drive, progressive thinking, and the right tools that help doers make that step from can to done.

The Chief Consumer and Digital Officer, Yaw Ankoma Agyapong commented on the new look, stating “Our new positioning and refreshed brand identity is centred on the notion that Rwanda is never still. And now more than ever, true progress for this nation we call home, can only be realised by closing the gap between ‘can’ and ‘done’.

“It is off this insight that our new campaign, “What are you doing today?” will launch across our footprint by challenging, celebrating and providing tools for doers, because as we progress, as individuals and communities, Rwanda progresses too”, he concludes.

www.mtn.co.rw

WFP and Impact Hub Kigali launch programme to support food system innovations in Rwanda

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Impact Hub Kigali (IHK), with the support of USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (BHA) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are launching the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge in Rwanda to foster locally-driven solutions to tackle food systems challenges. The initiative will offer technical support and a total of 300,000 USD in financial support. 

The IGNITE Food Systems Challenge is a first-of-its-kind initiative to support Rwandan start-ups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and cooperatives to scale up their solutions, contributing to the economy while addressing different gaps in the food system. The call for applications opens on 05 January 2022 and will close on 04 February 2022. 

The programme seeks innovative solutions that contribute to food security in areas such as resilience to shocks and stress, access to safe and nutritious food, improved food supply chains, the empowerment of smallholder farmers, and the advancement of food security for all. Selected ventures will have the opportunity to receive grant funding of up to US$50,000 as well as 6 months acceleration support, including connections to experts, mentors and partners, and other tailored support to address business gaps. 

The IGNITE Food Systems Challenge will be simultaneously running in Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda, and is being made possible with the support of US$2 million from USAID. The initiative comes at a time of worsening food insecurity in the region due to the compounding effects of rising conflict, climate change, natural disasters like droughts, floods, locusts, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The biggest challenge for many entrepreneurs in Eastern Africa is not only access to funding, but also technical support that furthers their concepts. Through this generous support by USAID, we are confident that we will be able to reach many bright and talented entrepreneurs in the region who might have been left behind,” says Mr Jeremie Pigé, the head of the WFP IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa.

Piloting, implementing and scaling innovative ideas lies at the heart of WFP and Impact Hub Kigali’s work. This programme will have an impact on promoting innovation in the food systems and advancing efforts towards achieving zero hunger in the world.

“With the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge, we will provide tailored support for local entrepreneurs to scale their impact in the Rwandan food system. Ventures will undergo diagnostics at the start of the programme and will be able to co-design their own acceleration journey, indicating the support they require, from coaching to peer and expert support such as legal or accounting services, among others.” adds Mafer Betancourt, Managing Director of Impact Hub Kigali.

The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impact of climate change.

www.wfp.org

UNICEF and Liquid Intelligent Technologies launch a partnership to help Giga bridge the digital divide in Africa

UNICEF and Liquid Intelligent Technologies, a business of Cassava Technologies, a pan-African technology group, announced a partnership in support of Giga’s work to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity, and choice.

Liquid will share anonymized data to support Giga’s work to map the location and connectivity status of schools in Africa. Liquid will also share information with Giga about schools’ proximity to telecoms infrastructure and will help develop a connectivity monitoring platform. The resulting information will provide a basis for better-targeted investment to connect schools, including in hard-to-reach areas.

The partnership will initially focus on Kenya but will aim to incorporate other Liquid markets over time, including South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.

“This partnership with Liquid will allow our Giga team to gain a deeper understanding of the connectivity landscape in Kenya and across Africa,” said Thomas Davin, Director, Office of Innovation at UNICEF. “That knowledge will help UNICEF to get more schools online, giving children access to the opportunities they need to flourish.”

Ben Roberts, Group Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, said, “The Giga Initiative from UNICEF and ITU echoes Liquid’s sentiment of creating a digitally resilient economy in Kenya and Africa at large. There is no better place to start than our schools that shape the minds of our children, thereby securing our future. Through our expertise in the digital and telecom landscape, we will support UNICEF in its endeavour to map school connectivity data across Kenya by providing real-time figures to measure impact. This initiative also reiterates the vision of our parent company – Cassava Technologies, of creating a digitally connected continent that leaves no African behind.”

Around half of the world’s population still has no meaningful access to the Internet. UNICEF and Liquid are committed to addressing this digital divide, which has widened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Giga has already mapped over 1 million schools and their connectivity around the world and has connected over 3,000 schools.

Liquid has connected 4,000 schools to internet across Africa. The company aspires to continue empowering schools with digital technology and has mapped 150,000 schools through the continent. 

Giga is part of UNICEF’s broader Reimagine Education initiative, the UN Secretary General’s Common Agenda and Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, and ITU’s Partner2 Connect Coalition. It has the potential to transform efforts to narrow the digital divide, providing a connectivity layer on which digital empowerment initiatives can build.

www.liquid.tech