(Ecofin Agency) - In 2020, UNICEF launched a global initiative to ensure millions of children have access to quality education via the Internet, as Covid-19 had reduced social interaction. It is relying on telecom operators to guarantee internet access, which is important for the success of the project.
Telecom operator Airtel Nigeria and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced, Friday (December 2), a memorandum of understanding to connect 620 elementary schools to digital learning in Nigeria within the next three months. The memorandum was signed under the initiative “Re-imagine Education” which aims to provide more than 300,000 schoolchildren with internet and devices to access the online curriculum for free, via a dedicated platform.
The partnership is scheduled to last five years, it is learned. In the first year, Airtel and UNICEF will provide all the necessary resources for digital learning to the 620 identified schools. The two partners plan to connect 20 schools in Lagos and Kano in December 2022. The remaining 600 schools will be connected by the end of February 2023.
The two partners agreed to collaborate on the “Re-imagine Education” project on November 1, 2021. Airtel agreed to invest US$57 million for the implementation of the project in thirteen of its African markets (Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia).
For Airtel Africa, this new partnership is in line with the "Our Community" pillar of its new sustainability strategy unveiled in October 2021, which prioritizes access to education. The telecom company says it "will stop at nothing to bridge the huge digital gap that currently exists in mostly rural primary schools across" Nigeria. The free internet connectivity that it will provide in Nigeria is estimated at US$1.3 million.
“With this program and partnership, we are providing both world-class education and digital inclusion for thousands of underprivileged children and our goal is to connect, empower and transform as many children and young people as possible. Education is power, and connectivity provides the leverage to become unstoppable. At Airtel, we are confident that this investment will not just transform lives but will create a wonderful future for millions of Nigerian children and young people,” said Surendran Chemmenkotil, Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria.
Isaac K. Kassouwi