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 usage.sa
“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.
It’s worth noting that both Airtel and MTN have already initiated the transition, with MTN gaining 50 eSIM subscribers within the first month.
Victor Rosen, a European national residing in Rwanda and one of the early adopters of eSIM technology, expressed satisfaction with the seamless activation process, convenience, and the ability to manage multiple network connections.
“I appreciate the convenience of purchasing an eSIM before traveling, whether it’s for a specific country, region like Europe or North America,” Rosen revealed. “I simply download the virtual SIM to my compatible smartphone or watch and activate it whenever I need it, enabling me to enjoy data and, in some eSIM plans, even make calls and send SMS as soon as I arrive.”
Rwanda’s progress in the rollout of eSIM cards stands as a testament to its commitment to technological advancement. Through collaborative efforts between RURA and telecom companies, eSIMs are set to gain momentum nationwide.
As innovation and digitization thrive, eSIMs will revolutionize mobile connectivity, empowering consumers with greater flexibility and convenience.