The "exponential" growth of the ICT sector in East Africa


Traffic has surged by 800 per cent between Rwanda and Uganda after the region adopted the East Africa one area network initiative in 2015, as a result calling charges have also dropped by 60 per cent and many other benefits have come about due to the EAC integration journey.

“It could be a bit difficult to summarise what has been going on in a sector that has been growing over 25 per cent over the last three years so what we have observed is the tremendous growth happening in terms of people getting connected,” said Youth and ICT, Government of Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Minister Hon Jean Philbert Nsengimana.



“We are close to 80 per cent of Rwandans, more than 8.5 million active subscribers on cell phones – we are getting close to 35 per cent internet perpetration and that’s up about 10 per cent three years ago and close to 4 million people online,” added the minister.

The region is looking at the phenomenon of mobile financial services, getting to more than 7.5 million active subscriptions he said but it has more in the pipelines as the ICT sector continues to grow.

“We are now trying to crack the nut of point-of-sale, so that people can pay with their mobile money at any shop or local market, which will only increase that volume in an exponential way.”

There are also plans to make sure government services get transformed, having the service available at “the click of a mouse,” or on mobile devices.

“We have started the local assembly of computers, we are rolling out 4G LTE, now close to 25 cities covered on target for 95 per cent coverage by 2017 – the sector is really growing and those are jobs being created,” said Minister Nsengimana.

Nsengimana says it’s important that it’s not only a government initiative but something that also brings in the private sector to create jobs and stimulates innovation, increases digital literacy and skills in the IT space.

Legislation has also been amended to accommodate innovations from the ICT sector, such as intellectual property rights but the minister feels it cannot be put ahead of innovation.

“You cannot put legislation ahead of innovation, legislation will always follow to address the bottlenecks to address very valid concerns like this one but we cannot put it ahead,” he said.

“We need to get to things that no one can copy – if you really believe that you have invented something that is quite unique, there is an office of intellectual property registration within the Rwanda Development Board – approach them and they will protect you,” said Nsengimana.