Rwanda’s President Kagame has always had a policy line that said Rwanda would become an ICT hub in the East African region. Until a few years ago, this was largely policy rhetoric but there are now a number of elements falling into place that begin to give substance to the vision.
In infrastructure terms, the company Liquid Telecom bought has a 500 kms fibre network throughout what is by African standards a relatively small country and has a GPON network in Kigali. Says Nkusi:”We will be offering 10 Gbps as a minimum along all of that network.”
Frustrated by its efforts to get the former incumbent to become the vehicle for national development, the Rwandan Government turned to the Koreans and asked in KTT to develop a new national fibre backbone that now covers all of the District centres and goes along the country’s main roads. When complete, it will be 2,500 kms and most of it is now built
and will soon be operational. In addition, MTN also has its own fibre network across the country, notably linking to its operation in Uganda and on to the landing station at Mombasa.
With all this activity, Nkusi says:”The infrastructure element’s been solved. The bandwidth’s been solved.” But he says there are two outstanding issues:”The last mile and affordability.” The Government network is currently managed by government-owned BSC but soon the company will be sold to KTT and it will build an LTE network to complement the fibre network. This will mean that the fibre can then be connected to the towns and villages that lie off the main roads. In a similar vein to Kenya’s proposed LTE network, it will be a wholesale network that will be shared by all of the country’s three
mobile operators: MTN, Airtel and Tigo.
Normally landlocked countries are at a disadvantage compared to their coastal counterparts but a combination of good fibre link choices to neighbors and some external funding from the World Bank means that wholesale international fibre prices are amongst the lowest in the region: some elements are below the US$100 per mbps level. It has fibre connections to Kenya (via Uganda) and to Tanzania and before long it will also connect to Tanzania through Burundi on a separate route.
In June this year, Liquid Telecom took over former Rwandan incumbent
Rwandatel, absorbing all of its assets except its property. The company
is headed up by former Rwandan Communications Minister Sam Nkusi who is
bullish about its future prospects
Article from the Balancing Act