Rwanda: eSim Cards – What You Need to Know as Local Telcos Plan Rollout

In a significant technological breakthrough, local telecom companies are preparing for the imminent launch of eSIM (embedded SIM) cards. An eSIM is a digital version of a physical SIM card that virtually identifies your device, enabling network connectivity.

Unlike traditional SIM cards, eSIMs can be programmed remotely through software and come built into newer smartphones. This means that swapping phones or changing wireless carriers no longer requires purchasing a new SIM card.

Eurald Gakwandi, the Senior Manager of Spectrum Administration at the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), shared insights with The New Times about the authority’s efforts to ensure a smooth transition to eSIM technology. RURA is currently granting authorizations to companies interested in adopting eSIMs.

“The necessary regulations and authorizations are already in place,” Gakwandi confirmed. “MTN has already commenced testing the system with iPhone 13 & 14 versions, as well as Google Pixel users.”

To facilitate the adoption of eSIM technology, phones manufactured with eSIM capabilities have received type approvals for importation into Rwanda, creating an environment conducive to eSIM

“The authorization and operational licenses for eSIM usage encompass the issuance of eSIMs, security considerations, and overall user protection,” Gakwandi added.

The eSIM registration process will require users to provide fingerprint and facial image data, alongside confidential personal information. The process will also enable flexible renewal, deactivation, and disabling of eSIMs.