Mwambu Wanendeya, vice president for communications and sustainability for sub-Saharan Africa, delivered a keynote address titled ‘The Vision of a Networked Society.’ Wanendeya highlighted how increased access to affordable mobile broadband can free developing communities from poverty and change the way these societies live and access services such as education and healthcare.
Wanendeya said: “Several studies have shown that improved connectivity makes life easier, safer and better for people living in rural and urban communities, resulting in a better quality of life, increased productivity and ultimately, improved GDP. No longer considered a luxury, mobile broadband is critical infrastructure for the continent’s socioeconomic growth and prosperity.”
Citing the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) as a case study, Wanendeya shared the far-reaching impacts of implementing mobile technology based solutions at the grassroots. For the past five years, Ericsson has brought ICT and connectivity to the MVP, a partnership between the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Millennium Promise and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) that helps rural communities in 10 African countries to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.
The MVP is working to integrate mobile technology into all sectors of its activities in rural communities across Africa. The first step was to secure mobile network access. Ericsson, in conjunction with mobile operators, provided basic voice and data connectivity to key institutions including schools, clinics, and ICT kiosks benefiting up to 500 000 people.
“Our involvement in the Millennium Villages Project is in alignment with our commitment to the achievement of the MDG. It also serves as a valuable incubator for exploring the sustainability of innovative business models in markets with huge potential for growth,” said Wanendeya.
During the summit, Ericsson will be exhibiting various initiatives tools and solutions covering the following areas:
- Power: Ericsson is showcasing the award-winning solution Ericsson Community Power, which enables people who are off-grid to have access to power, thus driving business and improving lives.
- Education: The cloud-based solution used in the Connect to Learn initiative will be demonstrated. The program leverages public/private partnerships to advocate for policies that support universal education. It provides practical on-the-ground support through the use of technology to help address the basic challenges facing students.
Through growing access to secondary schooling, especially for girls, by providing them with scholarships, and improving the quality of education through the innovative use of ICT, Ericsson has ensured that access to education is not a luxury, but a basic human right that gets to be enjoyed by all, particularly young girls who have historically been marginalized.
The important role of ICT in spearheading development has been reaffirmed by Jeffrey Sachs, advisor to the UN Secretary General and Director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, when he remarked: “The spread of ICT in Africa, including mobile phones and mobile broadband, is playing a decisive role in slashing poverty and spurring economic development. ICT will be the backbone of economic progress in Africa in the years ahead.”
The MDG Summit 2012 with the theme of 'Promote the power of business as one of the solutions to the MDG challenges', sought to explore and discuss innovative solutions that the private sector can deploy to help governments to address the MDG challenges.
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