A project aimed at enhancing digital literacy by improving access to infrastructure such as computers and the internet in underserved communities is making significant progress.
Launched in 2017 with a focus on empowering young people and women to facilitate learning, research, and business promotion, the initiative, a collaboration between Airtel Uganda and Telecom Tower Company (ATC), aims to benefit 40,000 individuals in Uganda.
The programme features the provision of computers connected to a 5G network, facilitating access to education through digital community centres in Uganda.
The latest addition to this network is the Hoima Public Library, bringing the total number of digital community centres to 12.
Others are located in Kiryandongo, Fort Portal, Mbale, Jinja, Bugiri, Buwenge, East Kololo, Old Kampala, Seeta, Budo, and Busega.
In Hoima, 20 computers have been donated and are housed within a building, a departure from the previous practice of setting up infrastructure in containers next to telecom masts.
The shift allows local communities to utilise these resources while the funders monitor their performance.
These learning centres, designed to promote education, employment, and economic development, offer a curriculum focused on computer literacy in partnership with Ndeje University.
Airtel Uganda and ATC plan to establish eight more Digital Community Centres as part of their “Access to Education” project, located in various public libraries across the country.
A statement from Airtel highlights the vision of this partnership to leverage connectivity for social development, financial literacy, and career development in underserved communities in Uganda.
Both entities aim to strengthen technological infrastructure, improving the accessibility and quality of education for all, regardless of socio-economic backgrounds.
Rajesh Agrawal, Chief Technology Officer at Airtel Uganda, expressed the aspiration of providing every child, even in remote parts of Uganda, access to the wealth of knowledge available on the internet.
He emphasised the potential for these skills to transform lives and create new opportunities, adding that they have trainers stationed at each of the aforesaid centres.
Financially disadvantaged individuals who complete one month of training at these centres will receive certificates at graduation.
Dorothy Kabagambe Ssemanda, Chief Executive Officer of ATC Uganda, said they have ambitious plans to establish more digital communities across the country by 2025.
These centres won’t just be buildings with computers; they will serve as hubs for fostering digital literacy, nurturing financial aspirations, and supporting career goals.
“With the recent rollout of the 5G network at around 50 sites across the country, even remote areas will have access to the same quality of education as urban areas,” she added.
Brian Kaboyo, Hoima City Mayor, commended this contribution, acknowledging its vital role in bridging the digital divide in the country, bringing joy and interaction to communities and aiding social progress while enhancing communication.
Premo Adoye, the registrar of Gulu University, Hoima Campus, situated close to the digital community centre, noted that Airtel and ATC are shifting the paradigm from corporate social responsibility to societal transformation.
He anticipates that the proper use of these donated resources will boost academic research, consultancy, and community engagement.