This is one of the ways Rwanda is trying to reinvent itself as a regional high tech hub by rolling out free citywide and eventually nationwide wireless connectivity.
The Rwandan government announced last month that it had started to cover the lush green, rolling hills of the capital with wireless hotspots, which is the first step of a plan to provide wifi coverage to all schools and public buildings, markets, bus stations and hotels in the city and, in the long-term, to the entire country.
The minister in charge of Information Technology, Jean Philibert Nsengimana, said he wanted to see the plan “accelerate growth of the internet sector” and attract more investors.
“Connectivity is one of the most important draws for business in this age of digital economy,” he said, asserting that free wifi was merely a step in the direction of a much bigger infrastructure goal – that of fourth generation, or 4G, access.
In June, the Rwandan government signed South Korea’s KT Corp to build a 4G network that it wants delivered to 95% of the country, up from the estimated 10 percent who currently have 3G access.
“Broadband access,” said Nsengimana, “has to be considered as an essential, just like water and electricity.”