Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation under its ‘ConnectRwanda initiative’ has distributed smartphones to over 3,000 female leaders in farmers’ cooperatives in the districts of Nyamagabe, Burera, Kirehe and Nyamasheke to aid and ease their access to agriculture information and enable them to disseminate it to other farmers.
Launched in 2019, the initiative seeks to provide smartphones to unconnected households countrywide to bridge the digital divide.
The female cooperative leaders were selected based on their role in sensitizing farmers to use best practices in farming.
The cooperative leaders play an important role in ensuring that best agriculture practices are followed and boost productivity.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, on average, a farmer promoter has access to around 4,000 farmers.
The distribution of the smartphones started on Tuesday, March 30. It is part of the celebrations of women’s month.
Paula Ingabire, the Minister of ICT and Innovation reiterated that agriculture being the backbone of Rwanda’s economy, women are great contributors to the growth of this sector especially in rural areas and therefore need smartphones to easily access agriculture information and disseminate it to other farmers.
“In order to reach more development, women in agriculture should be placed at the centre of this transformation,” she said, disclosing that women constitute more than 60 per cent of the Rwandan agricultural workforce.
Jeannette Bayisenge, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion said that smartphones will help women to improve the welfare of their families.
Gerardine Mukeshimana, the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources noted that; “Now they…they will be able to access and share information easily. This will help them to improve their agricultural activities.”
while addressing the beneficiaries; Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, the Minister of Local Government, said: “We thank the President of The Republic for always striving for inclusive development. The smartphones you have received are bringing you technology, Make sure you maximize their benefits towards sustainable development.”
Mitwa Ng’ambi, the MTN Rwanda CEO said that in partnership with the Ministry of ICT the move aims to empower women farmers, their businesses and drive digital literacy among them.
“We continue to recognise the importance women play in our economy and we are confident that these efforts to drive smartphone and internet penetration will make a difference,” she said.
Under the ConnectRwanda initiative, private companies, government institutions and individuals are joining hands to connect all Rwandans and drive the digital agenda.