Digital connectivity changing lives
Imagine going through child birth in a small rural village, miles from the local hospital with no access to advice from doctors, nurses or midwives.
For many mothers across sub-Saharan Africa this is a reality. They are left to go through childbearing unaided, feeling unsupported and sometimes following dangerous myths.
This is changing though as communities become digitally connected giving women access to lifesaving information and support.
Women in Nigeria, thanks to the launch of apps like the 2014 ‘Mobile Midwife’ app, are experiencing this for the first time
‘Wonderful, you feel as if a doctor is speaking to you. It has really helped me to know a lot about healthy nutrition and also caring for baby after birth’
Mobile Midwife User
240 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, one of the poorest regions of the world, still however remain disconnected from any telecommunication access. The EIB wants to be a part of the efforts to change this.
Without mobile connectivity communities are cut off from the outside world, often exacerbated by poor road access, leaving them few opportunities to access business and vital health and education services.
One company, Africa Mobile Networks (AMN), has been working hard to change this through the creation of innovative projects that place connectivity for all at the heart of what they do with the wish to see:
‘a fully connected Africa, with no community of any significant size being without basic communications services, to deliver social, economic, educational and other benefits to the population.’
Connecting Rural Communities
As towns and cities across the region become increasingly connected, those in rural areas remain isolated. For the 58% of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DMC) and 46.2% of Cameroon’s population who live in rural areas this creates real problems.
AMN, with funding from the EIB, is developing projects across the DRC and Cameroon to roll-out innovative, solar-powered mobile telecom towers, enabling rural communities to become connected to mobile networks.
One of the most difficult tasks is firstly identifying isolated communities without mobile coverage, as no one knows accurately where these communities are that so desperately in need to be connected. By investing in advanced software, settlements with as few as 100 people are being located by AMN.
This also allows for towers to be placed in optimal locations and by partnering with mobile network operators across the region AMN ensures as many people as possible can be reached.
Lifesaving mobile connectivity
3.6 million people’s lives will be significantly improved through first time access to mobile telecommunications in DRC and Cameroon. Connectivity will open up a world of opportunity to these rural communities.
Lives will be saved, simply by local midwives being able to call for help to ensure routine procedures such as caesarean sections can be undertaken.
Jobs will be created, as opportunities are created for entrepreneurs and local labour is utilised in tower construction and selling and distributing call airtime.
Farmers will be able to access market price information for their produce and find buyers before it perishes.
Families will be connected, by loved ones that have migrated to cities for work being able to call home and send money.
People, that may never visit a bank branch in their lives, will have access to financial services and savings products through mobile money accounts.Through connecting communities these projects are helping to not only promote economic inclusion but also eradicate poverty, through the power of mobile connectivity.