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BK Group Plc boosts Connect Rwanda Challenge with Rwf 200 million



Bank of Kigali Group Plc has handed Rwf 200 million cheque worth 2000 Mara phone smartphones to increase penetration among unconnected Rwandans.

The cheque handed over on Friday 24th January 2020 to Mara Phones CEO in presence of officials from the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, MTN representatives and BK Group Plc management smartphones was an honor to the pledge BK made in December 2019.

Speaking at the ceremony that took place at BK Group Plc headquarters, the CEO of Bank of Kigali, Dr Diane Karusisi explained that the donation was part of the bank’s initiatives to transform people’s lives and the economy as well.

“At BK, we are in the business s of transforming lives.  When we saw this initiative, we were fast to jump because we believe smartphone ownership enables easy access to online, financial services among others.   2000 phones is not a lot but when you think of what it can do to 2000 families, it gives hope for transforming small communities for them to have better lives and knowledge,” she said.

“We are very pleased to be part of this initiative. We want them connected to us and access our services when they are our clients so we can continue the transformation of our country we have started.  We are good together and will continue to be good together,” reiterated Karusisi.

The CEO of Mara Phones Rwanda, Eddy Sebera thanked Bank of Kigali for the gratitude to connect Rwandans adding that it is a true testimony of its commitment to honour pledges.

“This is not only the largest pledge to the challenge but also the largest pledge to provide Mara Phones to connect the unconnected. I would also like to applaud MTN and the Government for initiatives to digitalize the country,” he noted.

Innocent B. Muhizi, the CEO of Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) thanked everyone involved in the initiative which is part of the uniqueness of Rwanda to make things differently.

“If broad decisions have not been made a number of years ago to invest in certain things that challenge the conventional wisdom, we would not be where we are today.  This is another uniqueness of Rwanda to think outside the box.  That is how we are looking at how to get smartphones in the hands of all citizens.  This is the first steps of a long journey. Let us challenge everyone and I strongly believe we shall get far together,” he enthused.

Richard Acheampong, BK Chief Marketing Officer stressed that Connect Rwanda initiative was introduced to be able to increase smartphones penetration and connect unconnected under the pretext that smartphone ownership can transform life.

“It is said that smartphones transform economies. Broad Band Commission proposes that smartphone is becoming a fundamental human right. Whatever gaps we have, it is important for all of us to put smartphones in hands of people who are not connected. We started with a simple online campaign because of this belief that everybody in Rwanda deserves to be connected and lead e a modern life. We applaud BK as the biggest donor to this initiative,” he said.

Connect Rwanda challenge (online campaign) was initially launched by MTN in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation last year early December urging more institutions and individuals to join the race to connect Rwandans.

So far, more than 31,000 smartphones have been committed since the launch of the campaign.

The prices for the smartphone models that Mara Phones Group is producing in Rwanda are Rwf139,000 for Mara X and Rwf180,000 for Mara Z.

According to the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the smartphones from this factory that will be committed to supporting the needy, the cost was brought down from Rwf139,000 to Rwf100,000.

Digitalization is expected to revolutionize the way of lives and have a direct impact in different aspects of life.  Through smartphones people can pay school fees for children, connect to banks, and know the prices of agriculture outputs and pay for fertilizers using Smart Nkunganire system, pay for Mutuelle de Santé subscriptions access Irembo e-government service portal, health services and weather-related information among others.

Currently, the internet penetration in the country is around 52% while mobile subscribers are 9.6 million of whom only 1.7 own smartphones, according to figures from the Ministry of ICT.

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