A series of contracts in Kenya, South Africa, Madagascar and Benin, among others, highlight Ericsson’s growing footprint in Sub-Saharan Africa as communications service providers move to strengthen their networks and cater to demand for enhanced mobile services. Find out more here.
The momentum reflects the rapid growth of mobile connectivity across the region, as consumer demand for enhanced mobile services continues to grow and forward-thinking communications service providers are already securing their role in this dynamic market.
According to the June edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, current mobile data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa is set to grow 12-fold by 2025. Mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to account for 72 percent of all mobile subscriptions in the same year, with LTE subscriptions estimated to triple and top 270 million.
Fadi Pharaon, President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “Technology brings an unprecedented opportunity to address the challenges of sustainable economic development and improve the livelihood of people in Africa.
“The latest data shows that Africa is one of the fastest growing mobile markets and reiterates the need for a more efficient technology, higher data rates and availability of ample spectrum. Mobile and fixed networks are key components of critical national infrastructure to sustain and evolve emerging economies during remote work times.”
Expanding footprint in 2020
A slew of recent wins for Ericsson highlight the company’s growing footprint in the region as service providers strengthen their networks to meet growing demand from consumers and enterprises.
Earlier this year, MTN Benin has extended its long-term relationship with Ericsson to provide world-class managed services, including Network Operations Center, Field Services in Radio, Core and Transmission in Benin. Under the agreement, the future capabilities of efficiencies, automation and data will enable MTN Benin and Ericsson to jointly create a world of predictive operations with focus on customer experience, network quality, performance and automation.
In June of this year, Telma Madagascar switched on its 5G commercial network – powered by Ericsson – to offer subscribers high-speed services enabled by the new generation of mobile connectivity.
At the southern tip of the continent, MTN South Africa went live with commercial 5G in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth on June 30. Ericsson was announced as an MTN South Africa vendor in November 2019, to deploy products and solutions spanning its radio access network (RAN) Ericsson Radio System, transport and 5G Core network portfolios. Ericsson will also deploy Ericsson Spectrum Sharing.
In October 2020, Airtel Africa expanded its strategic partnership with Ericsson to enable 4G coverage in Kenya. With Ericsson’s Radio Access Network (RAN) and packet core products for 4G, Airtel subscribers will experience enhanced quality of voice and data. The network modernization deal, signed in August 2020, is in line with the ‘Kenyan Digital Economy Blueprint Vision 2030’ which aims to provide robust connectivity in rural areas and facilitate e-commerce platforms.
Committed to sustainability
Ericsson has a major focus in supporting sustainability across Africa. In October 2020 it was announced that Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator will power Telenor Connexion’s global connectivity to Wayout’s sustainable water treatment micro-factories starting in East Africa. This will expanding to the Middle East, Asia Pacific and other markets in 2021.
Wayout has engineered plug-and-play micro-factories for local production of clean, filtered water, with minimal environmental footprint. Powered by solar panels, the micro-factories offer an advanced water purification system.
October 2020 also saw Airtel Zambia announce a partnership with Ericsson on a Product Take-Back programme to minimize the potential environmental impact when disposing of decommissioned electrical equipment.
The Product Take-Back programme is part of Ericsson’s sustainability efforts geared towards taking accountability for environmental impacts of all products and services during their lifecycle. The programme ensures that end-of-life material is treated and recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.
UK- Nigeria Tech Hub to support Education and Tech-Entrepreneurship in Nigeria
In response to the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the education sector in Nigeria coupled with the need to support gender inclusive economic growth, the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub has launched two virtual programmes called the Innovative Teachers Fellowship Programme and the Future Females Business School Programme.
The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub works to stimulate local digital economies, support inclusive, sustainable economic growth and jobs creation, build high-end digital skills, and forge innovative partnerships between the Nigerian tech sector and international businesses.
These new programmes will help entrepreneurs build financial sustainability and adaptability into their business models.
The UK-Nigeria Africa Tech Hub Country Director, Honey Ogundeyi said, “Our aim now is to empower entrepreneurs and teachers with the relevant skills, tools, and knowledge to help them better respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19.
“The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub is pinpointing gaps and opportunities in order to create specialised and definitive training for tech entrepreneurs and other key communities who require tailored COVID-19 support. At the same time, the Hub is identifying partners, experts and enablers – locally and globally – with a vested interest in supporting these businesses.”
The Innovative Teachers Fellowship programme which launched last November, in partnership with CCHUB is upskilling 300 teachers (STEM and Non-STEM alike) by providing 21st-century teaching skills focused on the use of technology to create interactive learning content for students, as well as the use of digital tools to support learning. The programme highlights the use of teaching tools such as digital labs, digital tools for content delivery and assessment, classroom management as well as digital safety skills. It would also seek to improve the digital skills of the participating teachers through the various collaborative activities including webinars and teacher showcases aimed to help the teachers apply the concepts they have learned to solve real-world problems.
To increase gender diversity in tech, the UK- Nigeria Tech Hub’s Future Females Business School Programme in partnership with Future Females is supporting 150 Nigerian female entrepreneurs over the next 3 months to enable their tech-based businesses to scale and become more sustainable.
Participants at the Future Females Business School programme will also receive access to and mentorship opportunities with industry experts. The programme will also provide capacity building trainings covering 10 actionable modules equipping them with entrepreneurial skills and best practices needed to grow their tech-based businesses.
How Internet Connectivity In Public Schools Can Save Nigeria’s Education System
A year ago when secondary schools across Nigeria were kicking off the 2019/2020 academic session, not many public secondary schools in the country, especially those in the rural areas, would have listed internet connectivity as one of the essential infrastructures needed to boost learning and open a door of opportunities to the students and teachers. Today, in the space of one year, a lot has changed.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the world into a lockdown in March, has further brought to the fore, the need for internet connectivity in schools and why digital learning is essential for today’s classroom experience across the country.
Data from UNESCO revealed that, globally, over 1.2 billion children were out of the classroom in April 2020 due to the pandemic. While they were stuck at home during the lockdown, the learning of many students was halted while some in the private schools took classrooms online to make up for lost hours.
The tremendous learning opportunities that internet connectivity brings to education were better experienced during the lockdown when students and teachers took learning and interaction online where they had access to a plethora of learning resources.
Students without access to internet connectivity miss out on several educational opportunities that prepares them to function in the global economy, which in turn negatively impacts the future of the country.
Despite the challenges of infrastructure, Nigerian private schools appear to be moving with the rest of the world as they have better access to the internet to improve education and the learning experience. However, the same cannot be said about public schools who are still miles behind in internet adoption.
Cost and technology infrastructure are the two obvious barriers that worry stakeholders and educationalists. Technology infrastructure is expensive, and setting it up in public schools, where a vast majority of students come from low-income homes where they live on less than $2 per day, is another hard piece of the puzzle.
According to the American Internet Society, the best results of internet connectivity in public schools are likely to be achieved through strategic partnerships between government and private sector stakeholders like the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as well as teachers and educational administrators which has been the case in some parts of the world.
In 2008, Nokia partnered the South African government to develop ‘MoMaths’, a wide-ranging set of maths problems that can be accessed and answered via internet-enabled mobile phones. The project gave low-income learners access to high-quality education and allowed high school pupils across South Africa to learn theory and solving sums on their handsets as a result. Research by Nokia shows that students’ average maths scores improve by an average of 14 percentage points when using the service.
In Nigeria, an example of such public-private sector synergy is the project being championed by ipNX, a pioneering and leading information, communications and technology (ICT) company.
From 2011, for a number of years, ipNX provided free internet service to 55 public secondary schools in Lagos state. The initiative, which is part of ipNX’s corporate social investment dedicated to education, was recently extended to Oyo State to solve one of the biggest impending factors limiting the adoption of e-learning in public schools.
On October 8, 2020, ipNX unveiled free high speed broadband internet services set up at two public secondary schools in Oyo State – Government College Ibadan and Bishop Phillips Academy, Monatan, in a bid to improve access to technology for students and teachers.
According to Group Executive Director, HR & Corporate Services, ipNX, Folashade Efiong-Bassey, the project “will facilitate the goals of Oyo State in improving the education, science and technology sectors, which is a vision of the administration of His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde.
Moreover, this initiative complements the recent Federal Government intention to implement Zero-rating for education websites as part of efforts to ameliorate the impact of Covid-19 on Nigeria’s education sector.”
In no small measure, broadband internet will provide more opportunities for students and teachers to find the best practices, create new solutions, connect and inspire each other, all towards the achievement of better learning outcomes. With the empowerment of students in this way, the digital transformation and socio-economic development of Nigeria appear to be on course.
The end goal of this investment transcends the outcome of students performance from just passing exams but to actually harnessing opportunities from scholarships, jobs, employability training, and contribution to overall national development.
As part of efforts to solve the challenge of connectivity in the country, the Nigerian government has also developed the second phase of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025. The goal of the plan is to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (i.e. 2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage).
This move by ipNX to provide internet connectivity in Nigerian public schools is another significant contribution to the actualisation of the government’s National Broadband Plan. As Nigeria moves to achieve this ambitious, but realistic plan, public-private sector partnerships like the one between ipNX and the state governments, will prove to be the much needed fuel to fire up the engine of Nigeria’s education and human development.
Nigerian Youths Laud MTN for ICT and Business Skills Training
Participants at the MTN’s ICT and Business Skills Training 2020 have shared their excitement as they partake in the programme. These young entrepreneurs spoke on how they got information about the training, what they have learnt so far and how they plan to incorporate these lessons in upscaling their businesses.
Caleb Ugorji found out about the MTN ICT/Business Training skills programme through a WhatsApp group. He spoke about how much he’s learnt about digital marketing and how he hopes to upscale his business with this new skill.
Blogger and news writer, Jeremiah Edoho through the training has learnt about the importance of using social media for advertising to promote his brand.
Aliu Dada from Kaduna state says that he is looking forward to using the digital marketing skills he has acquired to upscale his business to a better standard.
Evans Ugorji is grateful to be a part of the training. According to him, the programme has been engaging and enlightening. He added that he has learnt about how digital marketing and the possibilities it holds. Evens also mentioned that he is now knowledgeable about the use of analytics to track the performance of his marketing campaigns.
Stephen Kelechi says that the MTN ICT and Business Skills Training has given him insight on how to take his business to the next level, adding that he can’t wait to acquire more knowledge over the next few weeks.
The ICT and Business Skills initiative in its fourth phase complements government efforts at promoting sustainable socio-economic development in Nigeria. Till date, 1,933 young people have been trained across Oyo, Kano, Imo, Nasarawa and Rivers States.
Google Launches People Cards to help Africans who want to be found on Google Search
Google today introduced a new mobile-only feature that makes people more discoverable on Google Search. People Cards allow people to create their presence on Search in the form of a card (similar to a Google Search Knowledge Panel) that includes all the details they want other people to have about them.
“For many people,“ says Olumide Balogun, Head of Consumer Apps, Sub Saharan Africa at Google, “whether they’re content creators, business professionals, or just wanting to stand out from the crowd — having an online presence is important.
“For those without a formal website, or for people who share a name with many others, this is an easy way to create or distinguish their presence on Search,” he adds. “Google’s mission has always been to organise information and make it useful and accessible, and we’re now providing a new way – for people who want to be found – to organise information about themselves, right on Search, on their mobile phones.”
Anyone with a Google Account can create a People Card by simply searching for their name and tapping the “add me to Search” prompt. This will lead them through a simple process to add a photo, description, links to social profiles and other information that they’d like others to know about them.
For the initial card creation, a unique phone number is required. One profile card is allowed per Google account and phone number. Additionally, people can report abusive content and impersonation claims through a feedback link directly from the product.
“In the last few years, we have been working with people across the region to better understand how Africans see Search and how we can make it more relevant and work better for the people on the continent. We built this feature for the millions of influencers, content creators, entrepreneurs, self-employed individuals, freelancers, or anyone else out there who wants to be discovered,” Olumide continues.
Google has recently introduced several locally relevant features within Search. Job Search Experience, for example, helps people find jobs through Search, while Health Symptom Search makes it easier for users to explore health conditions related to symptoms. Google has also introduced other features that make it easy to find information on everyday interests like Sports, Recipe, Movies, and Lyrics.
“A critical part of creating for Africa means building in line with the insights we are seeing from the region. We see that people in Africa want a search tool that reflects their real environment and also supports them to succeed as they go about their everyday hustle which is why the People Card creator is in full control of their information at all times; they choose what they would like to make public and if they would like to remove it,” he concludes.
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