|Officials from the Rwandan government, KT and KT’s Rwandan affiliate KT Rwanda Networks (KTRN) pose during the Transform Africa Summit 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Yoon Han-sung, second from left, CEO of KTRN; Yun Kyung-lim, third from left, head of KT’s global business office; Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa, fourth from left, minister of ICT in Rwanda; and Kim Eung-joong, ambassador to Rwanda, third from right, are seen in this photo. / Courtesy of KT|
By Baek Byung-yeul
KT announced Sunday that it had installed a high-speed mobile Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in Rwanda that covers 95 percent of the African country.
Korea’s No. 2 mobile carrier said it feted the completion of the network during the Transform Africa Summit 2018 — an information and communication technology (ICT) conference — held from May 7 to 10 in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali.
Rwanda is one of the fastest growing African ICT markets in e-commerce, e-services, mobile technology, applications development and automation. The country has a population of about 12 million people and 8.6 million people are subscribed to a mobile service. It is presumed that about 1.15 million people are using smartphones.
KT said the completion of the LTE network in Rwanda was a successful example of the company’s public-private-partnership (PPP) contract.
The company was an exclusive business partner with Rwanda to install the high-speed LTE network, which took three-and-a-half years to complete.
The network coverage reached 26 percent in 2015 and surpassed the 62 percent mark in 2016.
A KT spokeswoman said this is first time for a Korean mobile carrier to build an LTE network in Africa. “There has been criticism that local mobile carriers in Korea are less capable in overseas expansion, but this is an example showing KT’s capability in overseas business,” she said, adding KT may consider constructing LTE networks in other African countries.
Rwanda has its government development program Vision 2020 with the aim of becoming a middle income country by then. With the country’s lack of access to a port, inflated airfreight rates and surrounding instability, the government there invested in constructing ICT infrastructure to become a regional hub.
Yun Kyung-lim, head of KT’s global business office, said Rwandans are expected to accelerate the development of relevant technology with the faster internet.
“Simply put, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to converge and connect diverse industries on the basis of connectivity. In that regard, we have just begun and are now ready to join this wave of change. Also, we are closer to fulfilling the objectives of ICT vision Rwanda 2020,” said Yun.
“We need to create many converged services and innovations on top of this newly constructed 4G LTE environment. I can assure you, KT, as a global partner, will come up with local innovations in addition to the network and place Rwanda as a leading African nation,” Yun said.
Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa, minister of ICT in Rwanda also echoed that the network coverage was a splendid feat that KT and the Rwandan government achieved together. The minister also said the network will boost quality education, extend better medical services to rural areas, and accelerate the transformation of Rwanda’ s agriculture economy into a knowledge based one.