Bugesera residents decry poor telecom network, seek more Irembo agents
Patricie Nyirajyambere has recently sold her plot and a house located in Ruhuha Sector of Bugesera District to Mukagasana Christine who lives in Gatare Village of Kindama Cell in the same sector.
Nyirajyambere, on the other hand, lives in Nyamata Sector of the same district but had commuted to her former but sold residence in Ruhuha to carry out a land transfer on Tuesday last week but all had to begin with the transfer declaration via Irembo, an e-Government portal on which about 100 services are currently available.
The 65-year woman was present at the sole agent in Ruhuha Sector at 8:00 am but was still hopelessly waiting for being served at 11:00 am and feared she would go back home miles away without getting the transfer effective.
“I am here with this woman to carry out land transfer from me to her but Irembo portal is not working for us. It is now three hours since I arrived here but the agent is telling us that there is no network,” Nyirajyambere told this media, adding that they need more Irembo agents for residents to be served quickly.
“There was good internet network when we arrived in the morning but because there is one agent in this sector and many people were lining up here, it took long to reach to us and the network later got on fault yet we had to declare the transfer via Irembo portal and proceed to the sector’s office to see the land officer who would officiate our transfer.”
Nyirajyambere added that she was then likely to go back home without being served and feared she wouldn’t be able to return to Ruhuha soon due to her old age frailty and the fact that the Rwf40,000 she had carried to pay for the land transfer would be lost in daily expenses if she returned home without paying for the transfer.
Mukagasana who was to receive the transfer hailed Irembo portal for easing the service delivery but also reiterated that poor network hampers the portal’s efficiency.
“Irembo has made public services easily available for us because these agents in our communities help us to acquire services but we have now faced network faults from morning; it usually takes a few minutes to be served when there is network. We only have one Irembo agent in Ruhuha as the other agent who used to serve us for free from the sector’s office has stopped serving us for about four months now,” she said.
Worse situation in Nyarugenge Sector
The resident of Nyarugenge Sector of the same district recounted their frustrations over poor network for using internet and making phone calls in some parts of the sector. The problem is hampering the business and service delivery in various sectors including health, e-Government and more.
Marie Chantal Bamurange, the leader of Nyarugenge Health Centre, said the internet usually gets faulty for about three morning hours in two days a week and that becomes so challenging in the service delivery.
“We have a problem of poor network especially in morning hours when many patients are most in need of assistance. Internet is sometimes on fault from 7 am to 9 am and it makes our work hard especially in checking for patients’ health insurance data and this happens once or twice a week,” she said.
She, however, appreciated the ICT contribution in ending the time-consuming work of checking people’s health insurance data from the hard copies as the process has become a lot quicker now to search in the computer to find the data, among other benefits.
“We use ICT in recording children for vaccination in e-tracker system and add their parents or a neighbor’s phone number so that we send them reminders on vaccination time. We also use ICT in ordering medication and recording daily medication expenses so that the district’s pharmacy gets informed on a daily basis right from the system,” Bamurange said, adding that they also use ICT in communicating with the district and national laboratories.
“We wish to have ICT in all services we offer including in recording patient’s data in all departments of the health centre in order to improve service delivery.”
Emerthe Mukarubayiza, the Irembo agent at Nyarugenge Sector’s office, said the internet fault was so serious from Monday to Tuesday last week that it had stopped her working for over 24 hours by the time the press reached her.
“We have a serious problem of network which makes internet slow or even stops completely. Citizens now have to go through Irembo portal to seek any service from the sector’s office. This poor network also causes us business loss as I spend a day or more days here without serving any person yet I have bought internet data bundles which expire after a certain period of time,” she said.
“For instance, the internet got on fault yesterday at 9:00 am and hasn’t been restored until this time (at 12:30 pm). The Irembo portal has been unable to retrieve ID data from NIDA and there is nothing I can do without having ID information,” said Mukarubayiza last Tuesday.
Solutions in the offing
Angelique Umwari, Bugesera District Vice- Mayor in charge of Finance and Economic Development, said the district is aware of the poor telecom network especially in the sectors that are located at the country’s boundaries with Burundi but the works are underway to solve the problem.
“We are working closely with RURA (Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority) and telecom service providers on finding solution for the poor network in the sectors of Nyarugenge, Rweru and Kamabuye. There are telecom antennas which are under construction around our district to solve that problem,” she said.
Umwari added that the district is encouraging private sector to open more Irembo services outlets as a way to increase employment especially among the youth while taking services closer to the citizens.
Statistics from the Ministry of ICT and Innovation indicate that internet penetration stood at 52.1% countrywide in 2018 while the ICT annual growth rate was 18%.
The fifth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey 2016/2017 indicated that digital literacy in Rwanda was at 8.9% but the Government targets to take it to 60% by the year 2024.