New super-cheap smartphone unveiled in Rwanda will benefit marketers

By our News Team | 2023

Airtel Rwanda has released a 4G smartphone costing the equivalent of only US$16, thanks to heavy discount and support from a US philanthropist.

In what will be good news for digital marketers wanting to target Rwandan consumers, mobile telecommunications company Airtel Rwanda has released a 4G smartphone costing the equivalent of only US$16 (20,000 Rwandan Francs).


The heavily discounted price, made possible in part through the philanthropic support of Reed Hastings, former Executive Chairman of Netflix, is in line with the Rwandan government’s ConnectRwanda2.0 initiative which was launched in 2019 to deliver smartphones to more than 1-million households across the country in a bid to plug the nation’s connectivity gap.

Digital Marketing

Airtel Africa’s CEO, Dr Segun Ogunsanya, introduces the budget-friendly 4G phones. Photo credit: Airtel

Despite network coverage of 99%, smartphone penetration in the country stands at just 27%, according to the Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation


This latest effort at advancing digital inclusion and empowerment in Rwanda coincided with the Mobile World Congress in Kigali, which concluded on 19 October.


Airtel subscribers who purchase the affordable smartphones are eligible for unlimited calls and texts, and 1GB of 4G data daily, all for a monthly fee of just 82 US cents (Rwf1,000).


Speaking at the launch of the new affordable smartphone, Emmanuel Hamez, Managing Director of Airtel Rwanda, said the company is grateful to be able to join forces with the ConnectRwanda2.0 initiative to pave the way for a digital revolution.


“We are immensely proud to be part of this initiative that promises to foster Rwanda’s digital access, starting right here in Kayonza, Eastern Province,” he stated.


Driving inclusive and accessible broadband connectivity


Added Minister Ingabire: “The launch of this smartphone-financing initiative is a continuation of the Connect Rwanda initiative and it is well aligned with our policy to drive inclusive and accessible broadband connectivity across Rwanda.”


According to Statista, digital ad spending in Rwanda will grow by 10.6% in 2023, to a total of US$31.12-million.


A recent report in Top Africa News says the government of Rwanda has been actively promoting digital marketing. 


“It has implemented a number of initiatives to encourage businesses to use digital marketing, such as providing tax incentives and offering training programmes. These initiatives have helped to create a more favourable environment for businesses to use digital marketing,” the website reports.


“The government has also been investing in digital infrastructure. This includes the installation of fibre-optic cables, which has enabled businesses to access high-speed internet. This has [allowed] businesses to use digital marketing more effectively and efficiently.


“The government has also been encouraging businesses to use digital marketing to reach out to the rural population. By using digital channels, businesses can reach out to people in rural areas who may not have access to traditional media. This has enabled businesses to tap into new markets and increase their profits.”


According to the Rwandan government, the country is looking to technology and innovation to achieve its aspirations of becoming a knowledge-based economy by 2035.


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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.