Rwanda in partnership with OneWeb, a global communications company building the world's largest constellation of satellites to bridge the Digital Divide and connect all the unconnected schools of the world, have announced a partnership to support a satellite eco-system in Rwanda.
The aim of this partnership is to connect remote schools to the Internet. The partnership kicked-off with the first of 21 launch on 27th February 2019, at 23:37 AM Rwanda time, in French Guiana by OneWeb.
French Guiana is an overseas department of France on the North Coast of South America, mainly composed of tropical rainforest.
Rwanda has placed technology at the forefront of a key driver of national development and transformation.
Launching "Icyerekezo" (which means Vision), a global satellite, is a symbol of Rwanda's commitment to build local space industry, build local capacity, inspire the younger generation and prepare to usher Rwanda into a hyper-connected future.
In January this year, Rwanda announced its long-term space program, with a complementary initiative to launch its own first satellite this year.
Subsequently, during the recent World Government Summit, UNICEF announced Rwanda's partnership with Project Connect, an initiative designed to visually map school connectivity status globally. These datasets are crucial for Rwanda and globally.
This program will also involve training in local technology, which comes to the forefront of the development of software development in Rwanda. country.
Leveraging investments made in rolling out a fiber optic backbone network, 92% 3G Coverage, and 96.6% 4G LTE coverage, there is still more need to explore other last-mile solutions that will bridge the digital divide in an inclusive and sustainable way.
Both Rwanda and OneWeb believe that, with economies of scale, economies fall behind, and development rates are much higher.
The Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire highlighted that the Government of Rwanda has made remarkable efforts to invest in broadband connectivity and opportunities.
"Rwanda's choice to invest in space technologies is part of our broader mission to bridge the digital divide by providing equal digital opportunities to rural and remote communities. We are delighted to partner with OneWeb in this transformative initiative which presents us with a huge opportunity to leverage satellite connectivity, using OneWeb's constellation, providing low-latency and high-speed internet to remote schools in Rwanda. "
"The students at Nkombo named the satellite Icyerekezo, this truly depicts their own aspirations to embrace STEM fields and emerge the workforce of the future. This partnership responds to our intention of becoming a technology innovation hub, opening new pathways for connectivity, providing better education and creating new opportunities for our innovators. "
In addition, the Minister of Education Dr. Eugene Mutimura emphasized the need for a "connectivity to transform the education sector". Rwanda 's ICT in education Master Plan Outlines ambitions of interventions to connect schools and empower Rwandan children with immense opportunity, notably research, support our competence based learning, ease to access and share digital content, support systems to monitor and evaluate process among others.
"This partnership with One-to-One Satellite Technology and Connect All Schools is a huge opportunity to support and enable us to go to school in the next 3 years."
The Founder & Chairman of OneWeb Greg Wyler said: "Connecting remote schools to bridge the digital divide that still impacts the world's population is the heart of OneWeb's vision. We are delighted to partner with the Rwandan Government and particularly the students of Nkombo. The connectivity we can provide them to achieve their dreams and allow Rwanda to become a hub for innovation.
Nkombo Island sits in the middle of Lake Kivu, making it extremely costly and inefficient to reach with standard fiber connections hence a satellite is the perfect solution to provide internet connectivity.
However, the benefits are beyond internet access, for example, training and inspiring students in satellite technologies, enabling the whole community to access government online services and providing access to global educational content to students and educators.
This partnership will enable orbiting satellites to connect more remote schools across Rwanda.