Rwanda: Rura Makes Case for Use of Mobile Phone Data in Statistical Work

10 May 2019


Mobile phones have undergone rapid development in the past few years, and one of these is the introduction of smart phones, which have given power to several technology companies to come up with different applications and other inbuilt features on mobile phones.

These inbuilt features and some of the software have made it possible for developers to create several digital communication platforms and also sparked digital financial services that have made it possible for the biggest chunk of the population to gain access to financial services.

With 4 million internet users registered worldwide and with over 1.2 billion people having obtained accounts from 2011 to 2018 put the total at 3.8 billion with 76 per cent receiving their payments on these digital platforms, this indicates that now huge information is being shared and transferred via mobile phones.

This situation has made several experts who are in Kigali for the 5th international big data conference. During a panel discussion on mobile phone for Tourism, Migration and Population Statistics delegates agreed that mobile phone data should be given the same weight as other data during any statistical exercise.

Patrick Nyirishema, the Director General of Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority, said that mobile phone data should be viewed as an integral part of statistics and that governments should work with telecom operators in order to realise real value.

"Mobile phone data is very important but governments have to work with these telecommunication companies to get access to the data," he said.

However, Nyirishema said that mobile phone data should not be treated in insolation from other data as it doesn't tell the whole story in policy formulation and planning.

"Mobile phone data is important to tell the location of someone and to show the frequency of movements of people from one place to another but it doesn't end there because you can be in position to tell what activity this person is engaging in, whether tourism, trade or social events like visiting friends so we have to marry it with data from some other sources," he said.

The 5th International Big data Conference was held last week and involved discussions focused on the usage of Big Data in policy formulation and planning.

Source: The New Times