Telecoms Regulation

Rwanda: President Concerned About Low Smartphone Penetration Rate

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has expressed concerns about the country’s low smartphone penetration rate and said that more would be done to fix the issues of quality and cost.

In April this year, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) reported that the country’s internet penetration had increased to 52.1% at the end of 2018, but the percentage of mobile subscribers using smartphones was reportedly much less - approximately 15% according to Kagame.

The rapid increase of low-cost devices in the Rwandan market has been singled out as a critical influence.

Earlier this month, Rwanda’s Mara Group launched two new smartphones, the Mara X and Mara Z, that run on Google’s Android operating system and cost US$130 and US$190 respectively.

Speaking at the launch of the new mobile devices, Kagame said that the government wanted to ensure that many more Rwandans had access to smartphones and this is why the country’s telecoms industry was paying attention to cost and quality.

He said that Rwandans could also pay for the smartphones in instalments for over a period of two years.

While smartphone factories are in business in several African countries, including Algeria, South Africa, Ethiopia and Egypt, Mara’s factory in Rwanda claims to be the first-ever to fully manufacture the components as all the other factories are mainly assembling plants.

Mara phones in Rwanda will compete against Samsung and Tecno phones that are priced between US$40 and US$70.


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