MTN ramps up its digital skills training drive

  • MTN has opened a new multimedia tech centre in Mgobodzi village in rural Mpumalanga.
  • The telecom group is on a drive to increase access to digital skills training domestically and across Africa.
  • A new partnership with Rwanda’s Smart Africa marks another effort in the advancement of MTN’s education initiatives.

MTN is on a drive to increase digital skills among Africans. In 2021, only 33 percent of the continent’s population was using the internet, according to data from the GSMA (PDF).

Global Citizen, an organisation aiming to end extreme poverty through education and advocacy, breaks down South Africa’s digital divide problem into three factors: access to hardware, understanding digital means of communication, and internet affordability.

MTN is hoping to erase these factors bit by bit. The telecom announced yesterday that it has opened a high-tech multimedia centre at the Mawewe Community Centre in Mgobodzi Village, Nkomazi Local Municipality, in rural Mpumalanga.

According to a press release sent to Hypertext, the centre forms part of a longstanding Public Private Partnership with the Department of Social Department. The partnership is aimed at skills development, fighting poverty and building a caring society for all.  

The 20-seater multimedia centre is equipped with desktops, free MTN WiFi connectivity for 24 months, an interactive whiteboard, a laser printer and other necessary hardware and software to enable the local community to have easy access to communication technology.

 MTN adds that ICT skills training will also be provided for centre staff.  

“The technical and information gaps common in communities and schools outside major urban areas prevent thousands of South Africans from accessing the online resources that have the potential to enrich and transform their lives”, says Kusile Mtunzi-Hairwadzi, general manager of the MTN SA Foundation.

In provinces like Mpumalanga, geographic challenges like mountainous terrain add to the difficulty of service delivery. 

“It is imperative to building an inclusive, informed society that will ensure rural learners and communities benefit from technology, communication services and the growth opportunities that come along with digital skills development”, Mtunzi-Hairwadzi adds.

To date, MTN SA has handed over 500 multimedia centres to schools and communities across the country in the hopes of connecting thousands of learners and many communities with technology and digital skills.

ICT skills training is imperative for the big yellow brand, according to MTN SA CEO Charles Molapisi. Speaking at this year’s App of the Year Awards, Molapisi shared his vision for the future of South Africa.

“I don’t care if it’s a mansion or a shack, there must be someone in that house that can code an app,” Molapisi said, adding that MTN is working to train as many developers as possible by 2030 and calls for other entities to aid in this mission.

“One household, one developer,” was the CEO’s call to arms for the industry.

MTN and Smart Africa want to advance digital skills across the continent

The same day MTN announced the launch of the tech centre, MTN Group revealed that it had signed a new partnershp with Rwandan ICT skills transformer and accelerator Smart Africa.

The two entities will establish a digital skills ecosystem between the Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA) and MTN Skills Academy to advance digital literacy, digital and financial skills training, and digital competencies across the continent.

Smart Africa reaches different heads of state of disparate African nations to embrace digital skills and broadband internet usage to increase sustainable socio-economic development across the continent. The organisation has a vision to create a single digital market in Africa by 2030.

“We are confident that the MTN Skills Academy will support us in accelerating our mission and nurturing an ecosystem of ICT-specialized training that will increase digital proficiency across our member states,” chimed Lacina Koné, director general and chief executive of Smart Africa.

While MTN does not elucidate what the actual partnership will bring to Africans in a practical sense, the deal is still in its infancy and we hope to hear of a more concrete plan in the near future.


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