By JOHN CHOLA
Airtel Africa has committed to invest US$57 million into educational programmes in Zambia and 12 other countries under a five-year partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Airtel Africa Plc CEO, Dr Segun Ogunsanya, made the commitment at the opening of a two-day conference in Nairobi, Kenya where executives of Airtel Africa and the UNICEF convened to discuss implementation of the landmark partnership across 13 of Airtel’s 14 countries of operation
At the event Ogunsanya reflected on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on education in Africa leading to school closures and charged the participants to continue to work closely with stakeholders, especially the governments and educational authorities, to ensure that vulnerable children in remote communities, were allowed to learn.
Ogunsanya urged affected countries including Zambia to support this important initiative, noting that there were challenges faced in the implementation of the partnership in some of the 13 African countries.
He said as a leading telecommunications company in the region, Airtel Africa was using its unique insights to stand up for the children of Africa’s right to education and equality of opportunity.
Ogunsanya reiterated Airtel Africa’s corporate purpose of transforming lives and pledged that the organization will continue to champion the quest for bridging the digital divide and promoting financial inclusion.
Welcoming the participants, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director Lieke van de Wiel described the Airtel Africa/UNICEF partnership as an important collaboration of private and public sectors, aimed at putting children at the heart of their learning, and changing the narrative in education after years of loss during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She commended Airtel Africa for getting on board and encouraged the participants to seize the moment by sharing experiences and exchanging ideas and learnings on how best to implement the initiative.
In 2021, Airtel Africa and UNICEF signed a landmark partnership committing to provide access to quality education for more than one million children by connecting schools to the internet and providing access to zero-rated educational platforms in 13 African countries.
Airtel Africa is the first private sector company on the continent to partner with UNICEF to support programmes focused on accelerating digital learning, with access to education as one of the key goals of Airtel Africa’s sustainability strategy.
Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services with a presence in 14 countries across Africa, has restated its commitment to the relentless pursuit of a better future for African children through the provision of access to digital education.