TELECOMS

Rwanda launches “cheaper handsets” programme

Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Agency (RURA) in partnership with Rwanda Development Bank (RDB) and telecom operators are set to launch a pilot for cheaper handsets for all.

The scheme is inline with the regulator's drive to increase the country's subscriber base. Government targets to distribute about 600,000 mobile phone handsets in all districts at cheaper prices.

In the deal, RURA will contribute 50 percent of the total cost of the handset, the company 30 percent and the user 20 percent. BRD will finance the project in which the user will be paying in instalments.

"In 2007, in partnership with district authorities we managed to distribute 550,000 handsets which were reimbursed in instalments," Jack Kayonga, BRD's Managing Director said.

"The user will be required to refund Rwf1,000 per month. We are again looking forward to working with the district authorities to help us identify people in need of these phones."

In a recent interview with the Business Times RURA's Director General, Diogene Mudenge, revealed that the regulator is planning to issue a license to a fourth operator by the end of this year. However, he said that the RURA has to first give a chance to the third operator to consolidate. "The third operator has to first to acquire about 300,000 subscribers then we can issue out the bidding process for another operator," Mudenge said.

He added that with three telecoms, competition is going to increase which will make people to have a choice and eventually subscribers will also eventually increase. The 6 million subscriber base target by the regulator is set to contribute to the East African region target of 99.5 million 2015. Currently the region's subscribers are at 37.6 million with a penetration rate of 30.8 percent.

The New Times

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