MTN, Huawei target rural areas with affordable internet access
MTN Group and Huawei are partnering to deploy an affordable connectivity solution, RuralStar, in Ghana, which provides online access to remote and rural communities.
The two penned a memorandum of understanding (MoU) yesterday at the Mobile World Congress to strengthen strategic cooperation in environmental, social and governance matters.
With RuralStar, MTN says, the solution overcomes traditional barriers that make network connectivity in such scenarios unviable for carriers.
MTN, which recently pledged US$1-billion investment to Ghana, says “The parties will extend their collaboration following the completion of the first RuralStar proof-of-concept in Ghana in 2017.”
Africa’s largest mobile network with 285 million subscribers notes the MoU is aligned with MTN’s Ambition 2025 strategy and Huawei’s corporate sustainability development strategy, including its TECH4ALL initiative.
The partnership also seeks to accelerate efforts to reach more rural and remote communities and to broaden the portfolio of available digital skills training.
With a significant portion of Africa’s population living in rural areas, MTN says, it is committed to expanding its network to under-served communities and reach a target of 95% rural broadband coverage by 2025.
The telco notes the partnership with Huawei will support the achievement of this target as well as its approach to expand the number of collaborations and the types of partnership models MTN follow.
“Working with companies like Huawei, we can pool our technologies and expertise to drive greater access to connectivity, digital skills and greener and more sustainable solutions to the benefit of all. Leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress can only be achieved through the power of partnerships,” comments Nompilo Morafo, MTN Group chief sustainability & corporate affairs officer.
Li Peng, member of the Huawei’s supervisory board and president of the Carrier BG, says Huawei expects to work closely with MTN Group on rural coverage, reaching net zero and digital skills training.
“We believe that digital technology will become an important force driving social development and making the world more inclusive and sustainable.”
In the case of his company, Peng says, the Huawei DigiTruck provides free training in digital skills for those in need, including rural communities, the elderly, the unemployed, and girls and women in particular.
Converted from a used shipping container mounted on a truck, the DigiTruck is a solar-powered mobile classroom equipped with laptops, smartphones and 4G connectivity.
Peng notes the DigiTruck is also complemented by the Huawei ICT Academy, which trains university students in ICT skills such as 5G, cloud computing and AI.
There are 1 900 Huawei ICT Academies in 110 countries, serving around 150 000 students a year.