By David Himbara
According to the 2018 Kagame government statistics, the number of internet users in Rwanda is 5,634,047. This statistic is hilarious. If this were true, it would mean that half of Rwanda’s 11 million people have access to the internet.
There is another surprise in the Kagame government statistics — of 5,634,047 Rwandans with internet, only 7,237 or 0.1% use fixed internet. In other words, 99.9% of Rwandans access the internet via handheld mobile devices, such as smartphones.
Three questions arise here. First, are we to believe that 99.9% of internet users that depend on mobile network can afford smartphones or such devices? Over 80% of Rwandans earn less than US$3.20 a day.
Second, if 99.9% internet users depend on mobile internet, how do they download materials, print, store, and generally conduct business on mobile devices?
Third, and more importantly, what became of Kagame US$100 million national fiber-optic backbone network that was to take the broadband to all Rwandan districts?
This infrastructure comprised a 2,300 kilometre fiber-optic telecommunications network across the country. If this were functional, surely there would be more fixed internet users than the pathetic number of 7,237.
Kagame likes to proclaim that the ”internet is a needed public utility as much as water and electricity.” He is right — except that in Rwanda, accessing water and electricity, let alone the internet remains a fantasy. That is why the Kagame government resorts to cooking statistics.