The period after the 1994 genocide marked a moment of fundamental change in Rwandan communications. The government embarked on a policy that aimed to increase connectivity as a spur to development. This meant that the sole state-owned telecommunication company at the time, Rwandatel, would be treated differently by setting up an independent regulatory body known as the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), and altering the ICT market structure. Telecommunications reforms were aimed at increasing the competitiveness of the telecommunications industry and attracting foreign investment.
Rwanda is amongst the few African countries that developed an integrated ICT policy in the late 1990s with a clear vision of making ICTs a critical part of its socio-economic development plan. The hope was that the country would move from an agricultural-based economy to a knowledge-based economy through the development of competitive service-based industries. To reach this end, Rwanda sought to dominate what at the time seemed a niche market in the region by becoming a telecommunications hub in partnership with the private sector.1 However, despite a high level of political will to take ICT development forward as a priority, the country faces a major challenge in that it lacks a skilled workforce. This report examines the implementation of telecommunication reforms in Rwanda, with particular attention paid to broadband issues.
Read the related article Rwanda’s policy vaccum could mean trouble for broadband or read the other CICEWA reports.