* The joint commitment aims to ensure that every child reaches their full potential
* Airtel Africa is cognizant of the great value education contributes to our nations across the continent
* Which is why we are very deliberate in promoting education and empowering our people
By Duncan Mlanjira
Airtel Africa and UNICEF launched a US$57 million 5-year academic partnership in 2021, to accelerate the roll-out of digital learning for children by connecting schools to the internet and ensuring free access to learning platforms which was followed out in Uganda with other countries that Airtel operates following suit, including Malawi.
Thus on Friday, Group CEO of Airtel Africa, Segun Ogunsanya — on his visit to Kitende Secondary School in Entebbe, Uganda reaffirmed that the joint commitment aims to ensure that every child reaches their full potential.
Kitende is one of the schools connected to the internet by the mobile telecommunications operator and in a statement, Ogunsanya is quoted as saying: “Airtel Africa is cognizant of the great value education contributes to our nations across the continent, which is why we are very deliberate in promoting education and empowering our people.”
He added that Airtel Africa will continue to support the shared efforts of the Government of Uganda and across Africa by identifying and collaborating with strategic partners like UNICEF to transform the way the African child learns.
“We commit to do this in Uganda and across the 13 other countries where Airtel Africa operates,” Ogunsanya is quoted as saying, while commending the government of Uganda for showing high level of commitment to the digitization of education and also recognizing the pivotal role being played by UNICEF in supporting African children.
He is reported to have impressed on the students to take good advantage of the resources to further their academic pursuits in order to realize their dreams in life.
Through the Kolibri digital learning platform, the partnership will reach out to over 54,000 students with USSD/SMS based content optimized for mobile — which is currently available in over 100 secondary schools with computer labs and 15 youth-friendly ICT centers in refugee settlements.
An estimated 16,000 learners and 350 teachers in secondary schools have interacted with the Kolibri initiative and more than 1,080 adolescents and 200 trained volunteers are involved in the out-of-school Kolibri initiative implementation.
To-date over 7,500 registered users with over 200,000 content interactions, said the statement.
Airtel Africa — a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services — have a solid presence in 14 countries in Africa, offering an integrated suite of telecommunications solutions to its subscribers, including mobile voice and data services as well as mobile money services both nationally and internationally.
While hinting that Airtel Malawi Plc would soon officially announce its own initiative on education, the company’s Head of brand & communications, PR & CSR Norah Chavula-Chirwa could only say they are currently in the final stages of preparations to launch their first batch of schools that will have internet connectivity soon.
Last week, Airtel Malawi joined the efforts of supporting survivors of Cyclone Freddy-induced floods by injecting K150 million of which K100 million is to cover for free talk time to over 600,000 Airtel subscribers from the flood affected areas with K50 million to Malawi Red Cross Society towards the purchase of relief items.
At a press conference in Blantyre, Airtel Malawi Managing Director, Charles Kamoto said: “We wanted to not only support with the K50 million cash, but also help people in the affected areas to connect with their loved ones during this difficult time.”
Each of these customers will receive five free minutes per day for two days and Kamoto said the recipients were identified using data on the affected areas from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) and mapped those areas to Airtel sites.
In his vote of thanks, Malawi Red Cross Society secretary general, McBain Kanongodza applauded Airtel for the timely support, saying the free talking time to the areas affected by the Cyclone “is important as it will ease communication especially in restoring family links and coordination of humanitarian aid”.
The Cyclone Freddy, that hit Malawi on said March 11 — wreaking havoc the most in the Southern and Eastern regions — displaced people over 562,415 with 576 camps being accommodated in camps.
The death toll is at 511 with 1,332 injuries in districts of Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Phalombe, Thyolo and Zomba.
Life in a camp is dreadful for the flood survivors but they have no choice because they lost their homes and livelihood property — thus just waiting for relief food and non-food packages being provided for by the government, development partners and other stakeholders.
Thus on Friday, Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) paid a humanitarian and courtesy visit to Mayera camp in the area of Chatha in Chileka — which is accommodating some 307 people (115 women; 35 men and 157 children, one of whom is a newly-born that has been named Rachael) — and the area’s Councillor, Rasta Uche Selassie Yesaya (Michiru Ward) and Village Headman Ndala implored on well-wishing organisation to consider adopting families towards their evacuation.
Both — in their separate vote of thanks to the relief packages BAF brought emphasized that while there is peace and calm amongst the camp members, frustration is creeping as the wish to return to normal life is there but they have no economic means of doing so.
“Otherwise, if nothing is done to assist these people towards rebuilding their livelihood, they shall endure these terrible situations for a very long time,” Chief Ndala said. “We are very grateful of the support from BAF and various stakeholders — we pray to God to bless you all.
“But let us now think of ways we can support these people towards rebuilding their lives. The relief packages we are receiving should accompany with some financial assistance for them to rebuild their homes.
“These relief tents are on a private land and we thank the owners for accepting to host us here but they might need it back for the project they assigned it for, which will mean again searching for another free land available, which was tough to find it here.”
Councillor Yesaya, who paid special tribute to Chief Ndala for facilitating the privately-owned land, agreed with and emphasized that the suggestion to consider adopting families is the way forward in order to align with President Lazarus Chakwera’s #OperationTigwiraneManja# (let’s hold hands in solidarity in these trying times) campaign.
“These people have been resilient enough and if they can be financially assisted, they are willing to start the process of rebuilding their lives — otherwise they have no means to do so.
“They are facing multiple challenges here as you witnessed on our tour of the camp, which is blessed with a new member, baby Rachael. We are grateful of this support and if funds will still be available, please do visit us again.”
Camp leader, Peter Nazombe said most needs of the camp is food, a bit of cash handout for some individual family upkeep and bathing cubicles, which they only have one against 115 women, 35 men and some school going grown children.
He added that at first, the camp was set up at Mayera Primary School until Blantyre City Council decommissioned several bases to allow pupils to resume classes — thus Mayera was added with eight others and provided with tents.
In his remarks, BAF Executive Director, Thom Chibambo said they would sit down with their various partners — that include Freundeskreis Malawi (Germany-based Friends of Malawi Circles); World Connect; Amaryliss Hotel Blantyre; Cepa; Aqua-Pure among others — to see if they could adopt families to assist with building materials such as roof sheets.
Chibambo said BAF has been supporting the survivors with maize flour, blankets, sugar, clothes, mosquito nets, iron sheets, which are meant for relocation of the victims bearing in mind that they can’t stay in the camps for so long.
“They need to live their normal life at their new places to avoid the same effects of future Cyclone,” he said, adding that their continuing support is earmarked to reach out to 5,000 victims and so far over 500 people have been reached.
BAF thus is in discussions with partners for the support and relocation response and for more information, Chibambo said BAF can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org or 265888894271.