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February 14, 2013

Ericsson's 3G Network in Millenium Village in Ethiopia Benefits 55k in Need

While education is the key to moving the world forward, technology is going to be the medium to deliver this enlightenment. In countries with abject poverty, other priorities have precedence over technology. That’s why the contribution to move this part of the world forward has to be made by those that can afford to do so.

As part of its Technology for Good initiative, Ericsson is playing its part in contributing a vital technological investment in one of the most desperate parts of the world – Koraro, Ethiopia.

Located in northern Ethiopia, Koraro is a desolate environment in one of the poorest regions of the country. With very limited infrastructure, severely degraded soil, high maternal and malaria mortality rates, unsafe drinking water and a severe deficiency in teaching facilities makes it the ideal candidate for the help it is now receiving from Ericsson.

The location makes it a logistical nightmare, as the nearest access point is a dry weather road 9.9 miles away from the main road, essentially cutting the village off from the rest of the world.

As part of the Millenium Village Project (MVP), Koraro is one of 11 locations in Africa to which Ericsson is providing connectivity. Other countries include Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania Uganda and Liberia.

The immediate impact of this installation is going to provide 3G services to schools and a health clinic, benefiting 4,000 students in two schools and a population of 55,000 people.

Access to this type of technology would be all but impossible without the intervention of Ericsson. The education portion of this enterprise will provide teachers and students with the Connect To Learn initiative, giving them access to the company’s cloud-computing solution.

The service also includes netbooks and wireless terminals, so staff and students can have access to the Internet for educational material.

"The Koraro Millennium Village had limited access to communications technologies, however, with the support of Ericsson, the people in Koraro Cluster has benefited from 3G connectivity and Connect To Learn facilities. Students in two secondary schools are connected to the rest of the world using Ericsson donated laptop computers, which will be critical to advance education in the area. Mobile phones are used by community health workers and health extension workers to advance community health efforts. With these facilities and development of our staff, the Koraro cluster will serve as a center of excellence and a model for scaling up of ICT solutions in Ethiopia," said Awash Teklehaimanot, Professor at Columbia University and Director of Millennium Project in Ethiopia.

The value of access for applicable information means health professionals can provide science-based information for healthcare through remote medical assistance. In countries where superstition and folk medicine still persists, though, this technology will only slowly start introducing science as the standard for medicine. High death rates due to seldom treatable diseases such as malnutrition, diarrhea, tuberculosis and malaria can be dramatically lowered, and even eradicated, as community health workers start using the Open MRS (medical record system) to collect information and provide the appropriate care.

“Education is key to ending poverty and ensuring a better life for people. ICT can play a vital role in providing access to quality classroom resources for both teacher and student, and fostering social awareness and global understanding which has become a necessity nowadays in secondary education,” said Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, vice president and Head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson. “Many of the residents in this area rely on the community clinic for healthcare, with otherwise little or no access to the most fundamental aspects of healthcare.”

“Connecting the health clinic in Koraro is one part of a new joint continent-wide campaign that aims to train, equip and deploy one million community health workers throughout rural sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2015, reaching millions of underserved people,” she said.

Edited by Braden Becker

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