MTN Rwanda signed-up with the local arm of Bboxx Capital to partner on smartphone financing options, a move the pair positioned as aiding access to devices for the country’s population.

The collaboration centres on the supply of affordable smartphones to users who would not ordinarily be able to purchase a device. Each unit supplied on finance will come with a free starter data bundle totalling 3GB spread across the first three months.

Bboxx provides a platform connecting underserved communities to utilities, financial services and other products. Within this, it offers hardware financing.

The pair noted the collaboration aimed to build on a goal by authorities to ensure every household has a smartphone. Current penetration of the devices in Rwanda is estimated at 23.5 per cent by the partners.

Although both companies already offered smartphone financing prior to the tie-up, they noted the goal is to “maximise synergies” between their products, services and retail capacity to “achieve faster smartphone penetration”.

Bboxx noted on its platform repayments could be made over six or 12 months through MTN’s mobile money platform. Payment history for the devices will be included on an individual’s credit record, which could make them eligible for loans from other financial institutions.

MTN Rwanda CEO Mapula Bodibe said the collaboration “represents a significant step in bridging the digital divide by expanding access to affordable smartphones across the country”.