The Vodafone Group, the world’s leading mobile telecommunication company, has earmarked one million US dollars for the training of entrepreneurs in Africa to leverage the World Wide Web as a platform for delivering locally relevant content, applications and services.
A statement signed by Mr Isaac Cudjoe, Head of Corporate Communication, Vodafone Ghana, said the company would make a formal presentation to World Wide Web Foundation (Web Foundation), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the Web to empower people in London, on Wednesday, March 17, 2010.
It said grant, which would be issued over a three-year period was intended to help the Web Foundation understand the barriers to mobile Web access in Africa and support efforts to train social and economic entrepreneurs to create relevant Web content that was also accessible – even simple mobile phones.
“Some of the funding will also go to research that needs to be done to make the Web more accessible and valuable to people in developing economies,” it said.
The statement noted that while only 25 per cent of the world population used the Web today, more than 70 per cent of the world’s population had access to mobile or fixed communication devices capable of displaying Web content.
“In Africa, where the Internet penetration rate is approximately 6.8 percent, furthering Web access could create learning opportunities for local entrepreneurs and support the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to end poverty by 2015,” it said.
The statement quoted Vodafone Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Vittoro Colao as saying that it was clear that the creation of the World Wide Web, combined with the growing ubiquity of mobile technology, presented the world with a unique opportunity to drive positive change.
He noted that the work of the Web Foundation would help Vodafone to understand how society was adapting to new technologies.
“We will use those insights to help shape the communications infrastructure of the future in order to give as many people as possible access to the benefits that the Web provides,” he said.
The statement also quoted Mr Paul Ryan, Director of External Affairs, Vodafone Ghana as saying that, under the partnership, a training lab for entrepreneurs to develop web content for mobiles would be established by Vodafone Ghana.
He said “it is an exciting opportunity for Ghana to demonstrate its ability to develop and deploy emerging technologies creating greater opportunity for citizens in emerging markets.”
Mr Ryan said Vodafone Ghana was proud that, for a change, leadership in the internet space would emanate from emerging markets for both emerging and developed markets.
The statement said Vodafone had also invited the Web Foundation to join its research panel, which looked into the Socio-Economic Impact of Mobile (SIM) in society.
It said the current SIM project was exploring the impact of mobile broadband in emerging economies, adding that the results were expected later this year.
Vodafone has long been committed to providing products and services designed to benefit emerging economies where mobiles were used, valued and owned in ways that were very different from developed countries.
The company recently announced the release of low cost handsets, some selling for less than $15 in developing countries, intended to give those on low incomes the opportunity to share in the benefits of mobile technology.