Samsung Electronics Africa has announced that it will bolster its corporate citizenship efforts in Africa in a bid to help the continent achieve its sustainable development goals.
“As a global citizen, we felt it was important to use our technology to give back to society,” said Abey Tau, Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs Manager, speaking at the recent 2016 Samsung Africa Forum. “We do this in four ways: by creating new learning opportunities so that young people can enjoy access to better education; by using our technical expertise to develop and provide access to new healthcare solutions; by supporting youth employment through vocational training and skills development; and by reducing our impact on the environment.”
According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than 50% of all out-of-school children worldwide, which affects their future employment opportunities. The dire situation faced by many African countries is a result of a number of factors, including civil unrest, cultural beliefs and a lack of schooling infrastructure and resources.
It is against this backdrop that Samsung Electronics Africa has adopted an attitude of innovation by introducing technology where it previously has not existed. The aim is to make sure that every African child has access to education no matter where they are on the continent, using state-of-the-art digital technology enjoyed by children in developed countries.
Education as seed of innovation
Samsung says it believes that digital technology can completely transform the learning process, as well as the nature of teaching and learning, to create inclusive environments for everyone. Its Solar Powered Internet Schools, Smart Schools and E-Learning Academies provide solutions that are intended to deliver on this vision and improve the quality of learning, enhance teaching effectiveness and allow administrators to run institutions more effectively.
The company works with educators around the world to improve learning experiences through the use of technology, facilitating a classroom environment that is limitless and gives students access to a world of knowledge from their desks or on the go.
Through these education initiatives, Samsung hopes to instill a love of learning in students so that they may have equal access to opportunities and go on to become active participants in the economy. This can help to reduce the number of out-of-school children, giving them a chance to succeed.
Earlier this month, Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, attended the launch of a Smart School in the state of Ogun.
Samsung will continue to drive access to education by launching a number of education initiatives in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and DRC in 2016.
Skills of the future
However, it takes more than simply providing access to education. As a result of the work Samsung continues to do across the continent, alongside governments, private sector partners and communities, it has come to light that many graduates leave institutions of higher learning with strong theoretical knowledge but lack the practical skills needed by industry.
Samsung’s Engineering Academy and Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Academy aim to change this by providing free, intensive, hands-on training to graduates. The Academies seek to develop skilled young African leaders who are adequately prepared for the world of employment. The programme forms a core part of Samsung’s vision to fast-track the entry of African youths into the electronics job market and to reduce the shortage of scarce skills in the IT industry. Zimbabwe will be a recipient of one of these academies this year.
“Investing in the skills of the youth also benefits Samsung – the more young people we can develop with skills in the electronics industry, the more we can be assured of our ability to provide excellent service to our customers,” says Tau.
Access to quality healthcare
According to the World Bank, more than 60% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa live in rural areas and are unable to access clinics for proactive medical care.
To help alleviate this, Samsung Electronics Africa has put initiatives in place through public-private partnerships.
In 2013, Samsung introduced the Solar Powered Health Centre, a solution housed in a shipping container fitted with the most advanced medical equipment and Samsung solar panels. Patients can be screened at the centre to diagnose conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, tooth decay and cataracts. They can also access information on health issues.
Samsung’s Mobile Health Centre, which uses technology to remotely connect to specialist doctors anywhere in the world to get expert opinion and diagnoses, communities quick access to primary healthcare, screening, mother and child facilities, dental care, eye testing and emergency care This year, Samsung will be establishing a Mobile Health Centre in Togo.
Samsung’s Digital Village, which focuses on the challenges in underserved and rural communities, provides access to new experiences by bringing advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to under-resourced areas. This helps to bridge the digital divide and serves as a catalyst for local business and government service delivery.
The Digital Village is a hub where community members can access educational and health solutions.
Within a Digital Village set-up, Samsung also offers a Mother and Child Unit, which is equipped to offer comprehensive pre- and post-natal screening, care and education in an effort to reduce Africa’s high infant mortality rate.
In 2016, Samsung will be launching Digital Villages in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
“These multi-purpose offerings provide a sustainable solution to challenges faced by African people, while improving their standards of living. The model addresses one of Africa’s largest economic challenges – electrification. The scarcity of electricity results in limited access to education, healthcare and connectivity – all of which are key to socio-economic development,” adds Tau.
Corporate Citizenship that makes a real impact
“Collaboration with communities is key to finding the correct remedies to societal challenges,” says Tau. “At Samsung, we have a vested interest in the communities we operate in and, as a result, we have come up with solutions that directly address the everyday challenges most people encounter. Over the years, our collaborative efforts – guided by our strategic focus in the areas of education, health, the environment, and skills and employability – have seen us collaborate with different communities, NGOs and governments. These collaborations have given us insights that we have used when designing the solutions we have installed in the different communities across the African continent. 2016 is another year we build on these progressive partnerships and ensure that we positively impact the lives of more people.”
Africa gets broadband boost
ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.
Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.
Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.
ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.
At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”
Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.
Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.
AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.
The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.
‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”
The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.
‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.
The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”