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Changing Lives Award: Building a Better, More Inclusive, Digital World

This award, sponsored by Intelsat, recognises organisations and initiatives that have made a significant contribution to helping us build a more accessible and inclusive digital world.

SEE THE SHORTLIST


ERICSSON and MTN 5G launch in South Africa powered by Ericsson’s Core network
ERICSSON and MTN 5G launch in South Africa powered by Ericsson’s Core network

MTN partnered with Ericsson to deploy 5G EPC core network in South Africa. With this partnership, MTN has now launched commercial 5G in South Africa with the network now accessible to subscribers via 5G-ready devices, which enables them to benefit from the new generation of connectivity. The solution leverages off MTN’s existing core network infrastructure that is powered by Ericsson by simply adding the 5G software plugins to the existing Evolved Packet Core (EPC) network.

Ericsson was announced as an MTN South Africa vendor in November 2019, to deploy products and solutions spanning its radio access network (RAN) Ericsson Radio System, transport and 5G Core network portfolios. Ericsson will also deploy Ericsson Spectrum Sharing. MTN South Africa went live with commercial 5G in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth on June 30.

Huawei Supports Kenya ICT Skills and Talent Development with DigiTruck
Huawei Supports Kenya ICT Skills and Talent Development with DigiTruck

According to GSMA “a lack of literacy and digital skills is the biggest perceived barrier to mobile internet adoption” and “women are more likely to perceive skills as the most important barrier than men, especially in Africa”.

In Kenya only around 50% of the population are using smartphones, with 55% of users reporting digital skills as a barrier to internet use, and 30% saying it is the most important barrier (GSMA Sate of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report, 2020).

In response to this Huawei launched the DigiTruck in partnership with GSMA, UNESCO, Safaricom, Close the Gap, Computers for Schools Kenya and the Kenyan government in order to provide digital skills in remote areas. The program not only directly provides digital skills to the youth, but it also indirectly encourages them to train their peers, and to engage with other stakeholders on this issue.

The DigiTruck program has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet the need in rural areas for digital skills and internet access during the pandemic.

At the same time, providing advanced digital skills to grow the ICT industry has also been critical during the pandemic, and Huawei has significantly expanded our ICT Academy Training Program during these trying times.

* In which African country/region(s) has this service been launched? (25 words,Delivery Scope)
At this stage the first initial DigiTruck has been successfully deployed in Kenya and plans for further expansion into Africa is scheduled for 2021. Currently the ICT Academy is collaborating with 30 universities in Kenya.

* How does it serve the society / target customers in an innovative way? (200 words)
The DigiTruck is an environmentally friendly: solar-powered, repurposed shipping container, fitted with second-hand laptops and smartphones that can accommodate 20 users simultaneously.

The DigiTruck is an innovative partnership bringing stakeholders and content providers together such as UNESCO and GSMA, ICT providers such as Huawei and Safaricom. Additionally local and national government who mobilize youth and link to ongoing government youth and ICT programs such as Fursa and Ajira, and local NGO Computers For Schools Kenya that provide training benefits from the program.

The DigiTruck takes full advantage of Safaricom’s 4G network in order to provide 20 users access to high-speed internet through Huawei’s CPE devices.

The program has already supported 1,500 youth and continues to operate during COVID-19 with appropriate protocols in place. The impact of the program is focused on basic digital skills that enables the use of the internet for e-commerce, education and trade. Intermediate digital skills are also addressed that enables participation in the digital economy – a critical part of the government’s flagship Ajira program that helps Kenyans find work online and do work online.

The ICT Academy currently covers 30 Universities and support online learning for lecturers with almost 1,000 students supported with free data bundles allowing for advanced skills development in cloud, AI, IoT and other courses. The AI training has been organized in partnership with UNESCO. An additional 300 civil servants have also been trained during the pandemic period in partnership with the Ministry of ICT.

Intelsat - AMN (Africa Mobile Networks)
Intelsat - AMN (Africa Mobile Networks)

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most difficult and challenging regions of the world to connect because of its geographic complexities and number of remote communities.

Bringing mobile broadband connectivity to these most rural parts is not straightforward and it requires hybrid networks and innovative business models to truly close the business case.

AMN’s innovative mobile solution is helping MNOs overcome these obstacles.

In April 2020, Intelsat and its partner AMN (Africa Mobile Networks) celebrated an incredible milestone – connecting the 1,000th remote site and bringing access to 3.5 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • AMN is a company that is focused on specifically connecting the very remote communities that aren’t connected.
  • Relying on Intelsat’s satellite fleet, AMN provides MNOs with a network-as-a-service solution in which AMN builds and operates the ultra-rural network for them.
  • The celebration of the 1000th site in April 2020 has brought the potential of connectivity to 3.5 million people that haven’t been connected before.
  • Averaging around 10 base station installations a day across 10 African countries, AMN is on track to connect a total of around 12 million Africans by this time next year.
  • The low-cost solution, developed by AMN, is powered by a highly reliable, small-cell solar-based system that can be rapidly deployed in less than six hours. AMN has combined its solution with the power, performance and efficiencies of three high-throughput Intelsat Epic satellites, along with the 23 other Intelsat satellites that cover the African continent.
  • The result is a mobile network infrastructure that is a fast, cost-effective, reliable solution that can help MNOs easily scale to meet evolving connectivity demands, delivering 2G, 3G and 4G services to rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • AMN’s mission is to build mobile network base stations serving rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa which have no existing service, providing mobile network operators with a Capex-free route to add new subscribers and new revenues and with incremental costs. The vision of AMN is a fully-connected Africa, with no community of any significant size being without basic telecommunications services to deliver social, economic, educational and other benefits to the population

Liquid Telecom - connecting the DRC and South Sudan
Liquid Telecom - connecting the DRC and South Sudan

Liquid Telecom has built and operates the largest fibre network in Africa which spans more than 70,000km from Cape Town to Cairo. They believe that internet access is a basic human right and that every individual on the African continent has the right to be connected.

During 2019/20 they built the first fibre networks in both The Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan (SS), huge engineering feats across vast countries with unstable Governments, security issues and a lack of electricity. These networks have been years in the planning and are the most significant infrastructure projects in any sector in Africa in recent years. This entry deserves to win because these networks have brought connectivity - cross-nation and last mile -  at affordable prices to millions of people and businesses

DRC
This vast country which is home to 84 million people is larger than all of Western Europe put together and has long been a communications black hole:  mobile penetration is just 26% with only 9% of people using the internet.  To date they have built:

1.The first direct land-based fibre network between east and west Africa. Their fibre networks run 2,600km across the DRC through 20 cities from north to south connecting to Tanzania, Rwanda Zambia.

2.Vast metro rings around the main cities to deliver the first FTTH in the DRC.
3.New landing stations and data centres to connect to the existing subsea cables and bring capacity inland.

Results to Date
1.Significantly reduced latency - Previously, network traffic between Kinshasa in the DRC and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, for example, was routed via London.

2.More than 60,000 homes now connected

3.4 Terabits of capacity

For more information about KPIs please have a look at the report of CDC which is one of their supporting documents. CDC is the UK's development finance institution and has invested in their DRC network.

South Sudan

In February the first stage of our fibre network in South Sudan went live. This comprises a 200km subterranean optical fibre backbone, connecting the border of Uganda through Nimule to the South Sudanese capital city Juba. Two metro clusters, totalling 18km have been built in the CBD with more to follow this year.

This brings affordable and reliable high-speed internet connectivity for the first time to the 13m citizens of South Sudan, as well as thousands of businesses and government institutions.

NGOs were early customers and are using the network to provide connectivity to their aid missions across the country.

Their new networks in DRC and SS are both open access and available to other wholesale carriers as well as ISPs and MNOs.

Their networks in DRC and South Sudan interconnect to our 70,000km pan-African fibre network.

They are making reliable and affordable internet connectivity more readily available for millions of people and businesses in both countries - and ultimately creating a foundation for digital growth, innovation and prosperity in these war-torn countries

Orange Campus Africa
Orange Campus Africa

Access to education and training is a critical issue for Africa where it is a factor of equality, development and stability. On this continent where traditional means are notoriously insufficient (schools, universities, teachers, textbooks, etc.) the benefits of digital technology is now obvious to all players in the ecosystem.


This conviction was reinforced when schools and universities were closed in the context of the health crisis. Orange Middle East and Africa has made free the mobile connections to a selection of scholar, cultural and university content. The equivalent of ten million mobile plans dedicated to education and training were distributed for free. This episode demonstrated that content providers and populations are ready for these new uses.


However, the digital transformation of African school and university systems can only be achieved if they have the tools that are suited to them, that they can appropriate and ultimately become their tools.

This is why Orange, in partnership with the Virtual University of Senegal, launched Orange Campus Africa in 15 Sub-African countries: a training platform hosted in Africa, managed by Africans, adapted to the needs of Africans, open to players in education and training, whatever their size and technical expertise.

Thanks to this platform:
- African universities will be able to base their teaching on online training provided by other universities, international and local. They will thus be able to teach in new fields, in particular related to the digital economy, which facilitate employment of new graduated students and the development of countries. A greater number of students will be able to follow the universities courses and become graduate thanks to blended learning.
- The universities will be able to host their own training when they begin to create them, avoiding the technical aspects, focusing on their mission: teaching.
- Students and professionals will be able to take courses on an individual initiative, to complete their studies or progress in their employment.

Parallel Wireless ALL G Open RAN
Parallel Wireless ALL G Open RAN

MTN, Orange and Vodafone are deploying Open RAN across Africa to provide 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G services in the future. Because of easy deployments, the solution can enable coverage for urban and rural consumers.

High operational cost and deployment complexity of low ARPU deployments have prevented African MNOs from bringing coverage to those areas in the past. Traditional 2G voice only and broadband 3G or 4G networks require several high-cost and bulky equipment to deploy and operate. These types of equipment need large spaces to store, have a short life cycle and consume energy. Besides, hardware-based networks are difficult to upgrade. By shifting networks to Parallel Wireless' All G Open RAN, telecom operators can overcome these problems and deliver coverage at much lower cost by enabling connectivity through simplifying installation and increasing flexibility and sustainability through PW's software.

The biggest advantage of All G Open RAN is that it brings down the capital as well as operational expense and at the same time improves the experience for the end consumer. The upcoming 5G technology is not just about coming up with new services, but also is a chance for the service providers to leverage virtualization to simplify the networks.

For developed markets, the preparation for a 5G rollout, Open RAN provides a viable alternative. This is a journey that will take time but will be ready for mass deployment when 5G handhelds penetration makes this viable.

The competitive edge for MNOs is achieved by separating RAN hardware from software and, by using commoditized GPP-based hardware, Parallel Wireless creates an open ecosystem to drive down costs as a part of an end-to-end solution. The industry-leading Open vRAN solution consists of COTS vBBU, OpenRAN-based RRU, OpenRAN Controller. It allows mobile operators to pick and choose different hardware vendors for DU and CU, helping to get the best performance at much lower cost. By using different software implementations on the same RAN hardware, the cost of operations and ownership for mobile operators can be reduced by up to 40% and helps to bridge the digital divide and deliver services like eLearning, ehealth and eCommerce to African population


Radisys - Smart Feature Phone
Radisys - Smart Feature Phone

The World Economic Forum reports 3.7 billion people lack access to the internet, while fewer than one in five people in developing nations are connected. To bridge the global economic and digital divide, access to affordable, dependable mobile and broadband services is imperative to providing access to education, critical government and public services, and health care, as well as ensuring human connection.

Communications Service Providers (CSPs) face big challenges in delivering broadband services to rural areas due to the tremendous cost of building their networks into these more remote, less populated locations. While the growth of wireless networks, particularly 4G and 5G, has helped CSPs deliver broadband to new markets at a lower cost, the problem of device costs remain. Users in these newly developing markets need a device that will deliver all the benefits that broadband has to offer at a price that they can afford. The answer for both CSPs and consumers lies with powerful, yet affordabledevices with capabilities and applications that will drive data consumption.

A premium digital experience enabler, Radisys integrates enhanced capabilities and applications in a device with a simple user experience to drive subscriber growth and data consumption.  The Smart Feature Phone is a premium quality white label handset that delivers smart phone capabilities while priced for the masses. The device is fully integrated with leading-edge capabilities, digital experiences and a full suite of meaningful apps designed to maximize subscriber internet usage and elevate the customer experience and increase loyalty to operators. The Smart Feature Phone includes a full suite of meaningful apps, video streaming apps and locally relevant content and advanced features like multi-party video calling, built-in FM radio and loudspeaker.

Beyond the device, Radisys equips mobile operators with a market-specific strategy to transition subscribers in rural and emerging markets from primarily voice-centric users to Internet users driving ARPU and customer stickiness. By providing a quality smart feature phone pre-loaded with advanced capabilities and relevant apps Radisys is delivering a wholistic approach to bridge the digital divide and drive broadband usage in rural and emerging markets. Radisys is partnering with operators to transform global markets with an end-to-end experience, extending the user experience beyond voice and chat with enhanced services and capabilities to help operators increase broadband consumption.

With over 110 million units sold in Asia, Radisys continues to help service providers around the globe accelerate digital adoption by collaborating with them to build a core strategy around the device that is relevant for their markets. Radisys offers a wholistic, end-to-end solution for operators that provides rich digital experiences on feature phones, enabling subscriber growth, new revenue streams and increased broadband usage for CSPs, all while providing the connectivity that all people need to fully participate in society.

Who will win?