FIRN Project: Understanding Low Internet Penetration Rates and High Gender Disparity in Internet Access and Use in Rwanda

Project Duration

May 2019 – March 2021

Project Description

Despite strong supply side policies to drive Internet take-up in Rwanda, Rwanda has amongst the lowest Internet penetration rates in Africa with the widest recorded gender gap based on the 2017/18 After Access surveys. The findings are counterintuitive as, politically, the Rwanda Government has prioritised connectivity and is committed to promoting gender equality and digital inclusion.

Gender equality is enshrined at a constitutional level; women have the same rights to inherit land as men; and girls are likely to equally attend schools as boys due to a girls’ education policy and implementation plan. In relation to its digital readiness, policies and infrastructure interventions indicate the regulatory and policy environment has been developed to ensure uptake of the Internet.

This research seeks to understand why, despite these measures, penetration rates remain lower than in some poorer countries measured by gross national income (GNI) per capita, and the gender gap considerably higher.

The approach draws on the concept of intersectionality, which accounts for the differential access of women in relation to income, education, location (rural or urban) and culture.

Chenai Chair, Research Manager: Gender and Digital Rights at the World Wide Web Foundation, is working with the RIA team on this project.