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Rwanda, OneWeb Launch Satellite ‘Icyerekezo’ To Connect Remote Schools To Internet

Millions of people around the world today lack access to internet, particularly in rural areas where fiber optic cables, wireless infrastructures are difficult to reach. Companies then opted to provide internet down to consumers from space. Many have tried and failed but not OneWeb.

Virginia-based OneWeb on Wednesday afternoon launched its first batch of six fridge-sized satellites from French Guiana into space with the vision to use these satellites to provide internet connectivity practically to remote areas around the world — where there’s minimal delay in signal/reach.

OneWeb first internet service is reportedly said, to come online next year and by 2021, the company plans to offer the first global 5G ready internet coverage.

OneWeb Chief Executive, Adrián Steckel told CNN, “We can provide internet where others can’t reach.” He further added that — as the cost of electronics are coming down, people will want more and more connectivity.

Among the six launched fridge-sized satellites included; Rwanda’s ‘Icyerekezo’ which was named by students from Nkombo Island – a remotest island located within the volcanic Lake Kivu, West of Rwanda.

An artistic rendering of how OneWeb's fridge-sized satellites look like | Photo Courtesy : OneWeb.
An artistic rendering of how OneWeb’s fridge-sized satellites look like | Photo Courtesy : OneWeb.

The country’s Minister of ICT and Innovation, Ms. Paula Ingabire in a press statement, said Icyerekezo is a symbol of country’s commitment to build the local space industry, build local capacity, inspire the younger generation and prepare to usher Rwanda into a hyper-connected future.

The launch of Icyerekezo comes after Rwanda announced its long-term space program plan, with a complementary initiative to launch its own first satellite this year. Which the country has achieved.

Rwanda is the only African country to benefit from OneWeb’s launch of first batch of internet satellites in a deal to connect its Nkombo Island Schools to an affordable high-speed internet.

Director General in the Ministry of ICT, Rwanda told KT Press, the country was offered free internet usage for a period of 10-year grace before the country starts paying the internet.

“Under the agreement between Rwanda and OneWeb, a 10-year grace period was agreed upon and we will start paying for internet usage after that period,” reports KT Press.

Ms. Paula says the Government of Rwanda is delighted to partner with OneWeb in this transformative initiative which presents the country a huge opportunity to leverage satellite connectivity to provide schools in remote communities with high-speed internet.

According to Minister of Education Dr. Eugene Mutimura, told KT Press that the partnership with OneWeb to use satellite technology and connect all schools is a huge opportunity to support and allow them to leapfrog the current process in bid to connect all schools in the country in the next 3 years.

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