The government of Rwanda has caught the attention of the world after it announced earlier this week, through the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, that the country will launch a satellite that will provide broadband internet to schools in remote areas.
Dubbed ‘Icyerekezo’ by students of Groupe Secondaire St Pierre Nkombo in Nkombo Island Rwanda, the satellite will be launched into orbit from a spaceport on the Atlantic coast of French Guiana today, Wednesday, 27 February 2019 at around 23:30 pm. The satellite was designed by UK-based company, OneWeb.
Groupe Secondaire St Pierre Nkombo will be the first school to benefit from the broadband satellite.
According to reports, the location of the school (on Nkombo Island in Lake Kivu) had made it extremely costly and inefficient to be connected to standard fiber connections readily available in the country, and a satellite is a perfect solution to provide them with internet connectivity.
On its part, OneWeb will enable other schools across different regions to connect to the satellite and provide internet access across remote areas
OneWeb claims that the Rwandan satellite is part of the first six initial satellites the company will be launching. The company is backed by some of the major players in the space industry and finance, including Virgin, Qualcomm, Airbus and Soft Bank of Japan. It plans to roll out 650 satellites across the world to connect schools, hospitals, and other basic facilities.
Speaking on the proposed launch of ‘Icyerekezo’, the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire said that the government has made remarkable efforts to invest in broadband connectivity and believed the satellite is proof of government’s commitment to continue connecting underserved communities.
“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 a huge opportunity to leverage satellite connectivity, using OneWeb’s constellation, providing low-latency and high-speed internet to schools in remote communities of Rwanda,” she said.
Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s Founder and Chairman on his part said;
“We are delighted to partner with the Rwandan Government and particularly the students of Nkombo. The connectivity we can provide them will allow them to realize their dreams and allow Rwanda to become a hub for technological innovation.”
Indeed, Rwanda has led a path for others to follow.