Buses Ferry ICT to Rural Areas in Rwanda
In a much-publicized move to take information technology to ordinary citizens, Rwanda Development Board (RDB/IT) has finally introduced two models of ICT buses with Telecentres. Two of these buses arrived in the country via the Gatuna border post.
The move that is aimed at bridging the digital divide in the country comes into force as one of the backbones of the ongoing e-Rwanda Project and will see internet taken closer to citizens especially in the rural areas. The buses which are electronically equipped with 22 HP laptops, will be travelling to rural areas to allow ordinary citizens access IT services.
"These buses will be moving to places where the multipurpose community Telecenters and business development service centres are not available," said Wilson Muyenzi, e-Rwanda Project coordinator.
RDB/IT as mobile Telecentres, the buses are meant to provide additional ICT services ranging from printing, scanning and photocopying documents to offering basic ICT training to those who need it.
The pilot phase that is being launched is expected to last a year during which the services will be freely offered to citizens and after which more buses will be imported and a reasonable fee charged to beneficiaries, according to RDB/IT officials.
Acting Director General in charge of IT planning and coordination in RDB/IT, Grace Mutsinzi, revealed that the buses which were assembled in Nairobi are now valued at around Rwf 154m each, the price that include the two generators to power them while serving remote areas. Mutsinzi also said they have embarked on negotiations with various stakeholders and development partners to ensure that the use of these ICT buses contributes to the country's vision of becoming a world class ICT hub.
"We shall also partner with schools to provide access to ICT through these buses to primary and secondary students in rural areas with no access to ICT," he said. The ICT bus innovation comes as an addition to the introduction of 30 Telecentres all over the country in an initiative that is aimed at boosting both public and private development through information technology. Largely funded by the World Bank, the e-Rwanda project has also seen the country introduce the telemedicine initiative and e-treatment.
The New Times