[AfrICANN-discuss] Intel, MTN partner to connect Africa
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Fri Jul 30 18:06:21 SAST 2010
Intel, MTN partner to connect Africa
Intel signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with MTN yesterday, in an effort to bring greater broadband access to Africa.
The companies will also collaborate on other specified activities, according to Intel. Some of the initiatives will be in areas such as broadband access through WiMax deployment, affordable PC bundles for the ordinary African consumer and entrepreneurs, as well as cost-effective Internet browsing devices.
The MOU aims to accelerate deployment and penetration of broadband into Africa and the Middle East, says Intel.
According to Gordon Graylish, VP of sales and marketing for Intel, the memorandum underpins the importance of collaboration between industry leaders to bring sustainable ICT development to the region.
“In this way we can accelerate the African entry into the 21st century knowledge and digital economy, which will give Africa's citizen the same economic opportunities as available in the developed countries.”
WiMax market development manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at Intel, Gavin Coetzer, says Intel is working specifically with MTN on WiMax. They are collaborating on a low-cost modem project.
“We will move to other broadband technologies as we grow.”
Jacques van Schalkwyk, GM of Intel South and Sub-Saharan Africa, says Intel has aims to provide connectivity in rural areas, and WiMax plays a critical role in this.
“The aim is for cost-effective, manageable, scalable broadband access. It's not purely about WiMax, it's about delivering broadband.”
He says Africa has one of the largest mobile voice markets, and in terms of the models that other developed countries went through, data is the next step.
Coetzer says the digital divide in terms of voice has been closed. “Now we are targeting the broadband divide. That's where we're going...
“We've got this connectivity and now we have to take the connectivity to the consumer.”
Van Schalkwyk says with all the broadband coming into Africa, focus has to be put on infrastructure.
“If we really want to develop Africa to compete on a global level and to be a world-class continent then infrastructure is critical.”
The need for infrastructure in Africa is like a double-edged sword, says Van Schalkwyk. He explains that infrastructure is needed to increase efficiency, but the infrastructure itself is expensive.
He also says governments in Africa need to drive services in e-strategies. “It's not rocket science to figure out the explosion here. The public and private sector need to work together to accelerate the bridge that will close the gap [of the digital divide].”
Next one billion
Van Schalkwyk says in an effort to connect the next one billion people to the Internet, Intel created the World Ahead programme.
In this programme there are four pillars that must be met to achieve the goal, the most important of which is connectivity. “A computer not connected to the Internet is just an intelligent typewriter,” says Van Schalkwyk.
MTN has a very good footprint in Africa, and so it made for a strategic partnership for Intel in addressing the connectivity pillar, he adds.
He also says telcos are playing a critical role in the adoption of ICTs in Africa. “A lot of telcos are ISPs as well. They've got the products, services and content. When you put that all together, it's a unique, solid opportunity. It's a unique opportunity in Africa and MTN is very well positioned to capitalise on it.
“Strategies developed by MTN and Intel to connect the next generation of broadband users in Africa and the Middle East were a perfect fit, which is why we went into discussions to collaborate,” says Graylish. “Both companies have expertise in different aspects of ICT deployment and together we can accelerate bridging the digital divide on the continent.”
“We saw synergy in a lot of what MTN was doing that aligned with the World Ahead programme,” says Coetzer.
He gives the example of the educational digital content MTN has converted to suit the South African curriculum, which complements Intel's education pillar from the World Ahead programme.
There will be joint efforts by the MTN Foundation and Intel Education's Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives to equip students and teachers with technology skills, says MTN.
“These initiatives will contribute to the development of young people in Africa by equipping them with up-to-date maths and science skills, as well as life skills such as critical thinking in the current knowledge economy,” it adds.
It also says Intel's venture capital division, Intel Capital, and MTN will also invest in emerging technology companies that are innovative and demonstrate a potential for advancing the ICT sector. The companies must develop products that contribute to solving typically African business and social problems.
Coetzer says there are more strategic objectives that will be clearer as the MOU matures.
Source : http://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=35412:intel-mtn-partner-to-connect-africa&catid=69&Itemid=58
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