Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services with a presence in 14 countries across Africa, has restated its commitment to the relentless pursuit of a better future for African children through the provision of access to digital education.

Dr Segun Ogunsanya, CEO of Airtel Africa plc, made this commitment at the opening of a two-day conference in Nairobi, Kenya, last week where executives of Airtel Africa and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) convened to discuss implementation of the landmark partnership across 13 out of Airtel’s 14 markets. Airtel Africa committed to invest $57m into educational programmes during the five-year partnership with UNICEF.

Ogunsanya reflected on the effects of Covid-19 pandemic on education in Africa leading to school closures, and charged the participants to continue to work closely with stakeholders, especially the governments and educational authorities, to ensure that children, especially vulnerable children in remote communities, are given the opportunity to learn.

He acknowledged the challenges faced in the implementation of the partnership in some of the 13 African countries, and urged the governments of the affected countries to support this important initiative. As a leading telecommunications company in the region, Airtel Africa is using its unique insights to stand up for the children of Africa’s right to education and equality of opportunity. Ogunsanya reiterated Airtel Africa’s corporate purpose of transforming lives and pledged that the organisation will continue to champion the quest for bridging the digital divide and promoting financial inclusion.

Also welcoming the participants, the deputy regional director of UNICEF, Lieke van de Wiel, described the Airtel Africa/UNICEF partnership as an important collaboration of private and public sectors, aimed at putting children at the heart of their learning, and changing the narrative in education after years of loss during the Covid-19 pandemic. She commended Airtel Africa for coming on board and encouraged the participants to seize the moment by sharing experiences and exchanging ideas and learnings on how best to implement the initiative. In 2021, Airtel Africa and UNICEF signed a landmark partnership committing to provide access to quality education for more that one million children by connecting schools to the internet and providing access to zero-rated educational platforms in 13 African countries. Airtel Africa is the first private sector company on the continent to partner with UNICEF to support programmes focused on accelerating digital learning, with access to education as one of the key goals of Airtel Africa’s sustainability strategy.

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