Residents of Rulindo district, Northern Rwanda are upbeat about a smart village that was established in the area last year, offering digital literacy and government services.

The Tumba Smart Village was initiated by Solektra and the Ministry of ICT to promote digital literacy, financial inclusion and access to government services among many other services. The services, offered in the Tumba community center are powered by solar power and the Internet from Broadband System Corporation.

The program has facilitated access to services as well as enhanced service provision, according to residents.

“Many businesses have grown in the area since the establishment of the kiosk, shops can now open until midnight as opposed to when we didn’t have street lights in the town” says a one resident, Ms. Uwera Oliver.

“It has been tremendously beneficial are clear, we have had teachers from all the neighboring sectors coming here to register their students for national exams while they used to travel to Kigali for fast and reliable internet. We only wish we could get more kiosks as this is not enough at the moment; It would also be great if neighboring sectors could also get the same kiosk” adds the Executive of Tumba sector, Mr. Rodrigue Mbera.

The smart village is, since inception, credited with providing over 16,000 services and has seen more than 200 people trained in digital literacy including 86 people in financial inclusion and digital device usage.

Boosting financial literacy
In a bid to boost financial literacy, Ecobank and Solektra have embarked on a joint program to provide training in financial literacy and inclusion and to offer agent and merchant banking solutions in the district. Currently, the nearest Ecobank Branch is two hours away from Tumba. With the launch of the merchant and agent banking solutions, citizens will now be able to take advantage of the various banking products offered by Ecobank and will save time and money due to traveling long distances to access banking services.

Ms. Aline Rwigimba, the head of Consumer Banking at Ecobank Rwanda, emphasized the benefits of banking to the local residents. “Now that you have internet in the area, you can easily carry out transactions using your mobile phones or computers in the kiosk at any time”. Said Aline.

Launched last year, the Smart Village Initiative aims to bridge the digital divide in rural Rwanda by bringing technological solutions and innovations to residents in order to enhance their daily lives, increase socio-economic opportunities and create jobs by increasing their access to ICT and services.