Disentangling the broadband divide in Rwanda: supply-side vs demand-side

The Rwandan telecommunications sector has shown particularly strong growth in recent years, due to a vibrant economy and championing of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the highest level. ICT is a central engine to driving Rwanda’s transformation to a knowledge-based economy. The SMART Rwanda plan 2015-2016 put broadband at the heart of the national socio-economic development agenda.

While the supply-side analysis provides information on price trends, it does not provide an understanding of issues relating to income disparities and affordability. To understand this, RIA is undertaking national representative household, individual and business surveys which aim at understanding the demand-side barriers to Internet take up.

The policy brief highlights:

  • Rwanda is ranked ninth out of 38 African countries in terms of mobile broadband affordability
  • It performs better than leading African markets, Kenya and South Africa, in terms of cost of 1GB data
  • As with many predominantly prepaid mobile markets, bundled and dynamically priced products are better value for money than 1GB of data, the international standard for data measurement
  • Airtel’s bundled products provide more value for money, more data, and a cheaper option than 1GB of data
  • As indicated by the low penetration rate and poor usage rates, Internet access remains unaffordable to the majority of Rwandans despite the relatively strong performance of mobile broadband products.

Download full policy brief here.