Middle East and African mobile network provider, Zain, and leading telecom equipment supplier, Ericsson, are working with the United Nations to help alleviate poverty and empower rural people in Nigeria.
Both companies are involved in the Millennium Villages Project, which is run by the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Millennium Promise and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The chosen site for the project in Nigeria is Pampaida, in the Ikara Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
As part of the project, Zain and Ericsson have deployed communications services to fight poverty in a largely rural area of the country.
The Millennium Villages Project is a community-based initiative designed to help people in rural areas improve agricultural production, which is the foundation of the region’s economy. Additional benefits include improving access to health, education and infrastructure.
With the aim of bridging the digital divide and breaking the isolation that hampers development in rural Africa, the Millennium Village Project has a set objective of bringing mobile communication and the internet service to more than half a million people in select villages in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Chief Executive Officer of Zain Nigeria, Bayo Ligali, says the company is collaborating with Ericsson to provide communications solutions that will help to improve the quality of life of people in one of the remotest parts of Nigeria.
“The Pampaida project is part of Zain’s Corporate Social Responsibility Programmes of creating and helping people to appreciate a wonderful world. The communication solutions that have been deployed will enable the people of Pampaida to make calls, access health services and education and improve their economic status,” he said.
“We are creating enormous opportunities for this community and we expect the impact of this project to outlive our generation. Jobs will be created, relationships will be enhanced and the communication gap between this community and the rest of the world will be bridged and a whole new communication experience, a truly wonderful world, will be created for the people of Pampaida.”
“The power of access to mobile communication to potentially transform lives in rural African villages and improve life, provide access to health care and education, create new business opportunities and create access to markets, and ultimately to help eradicate extreme poverty is well documented across the world.”
Zain and Ericsson have deployed a 2G/3G network in Pampaida. Ericsson’s Fixed Wireless Terminals will improve coverage and connectivity in schools, health clinics, community centers and ICT kiosks. Zain will also provide a toll-free number and established emergency numbers to improve access to healthcare and emergency services especially to connect patients with on-duty medical personnel while Sony-Ericsson has provided handsets to community health workers.
— Charl Lombard