Zain and Ericsson enhance socio-economic development in Ghana with 3G

Ericsson and Zain have joined forces to combat poverty in the Amansie-West district of Ghana’s Ashanti region. Working with the Millennium Villages project, the telecom giants have deployed mobile communications services to six villages: Bonsaaso, Watreso, Datano, Keniago, Takorase and Asamang. Each village has a population of around 5000, and are located in a rural area situated in one of Ghana’s poorest regions.

The Millennium Villages Project is a collaboration between The Earth Institute at Columbia University, Millennium Promise, and the United Nations Development Programme. It aims to help the villages work towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) endorsed by world leaders in 2000.

The remote location of the villages presents many problems for its inhabitants. Key among them is inadequate healthcare - there is only one hospital with proper facilities within 40km of the villages. Poor road conditions and a lack of adequate transport exacerbate this problem. Education and the local agriculture-based economy also suffer due to the remote location.

Three new healthcare clinics have been constructed in the area since the project began, and two older clinics have been renovated. Zain and Ericsson have provided fixed wireless terminals to clinics and schools, as well as free numbers for the emergency services and healthcare workers. Sony Ericsson have provided handsets to healthcare workers, while Zain have donated SIM cards which allow them to contact each other free of charge. Ericsson has also provided solar powered chargers for the phones, so that the healthcare lines are available at all times.

In addition to this, learning centres in the area have benefitted from fixed wireless terminals and Internet access, while the establishment of a 3.5G network has provided farmers with access to information about availability of goods and pricing without having to travel – this mitigates risk and diversifies output while increasing income.

Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institut, said “The power of access to mobile communication to potentially transform lives in rural African villages and ultimately to help eradicate extreme poverty is beginning to be well documented across the world, and we are bringing this to life with Ericsson and Zain in the MV project. We are convinced that the benefits and potential of this project will fast-track transformation of the lives of the residents of Bonsaaso, and all the Millennium villages, in ways that we could never have imagined just a few years ago.”

About Millennium Villages project

The Millennium Villages project, based at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, is a science-based bottom-up approach to lifting rural villages out of the poverty trap that afflicts more than a billion people worldwide. The community-drive initiative currently operates in 11 sub-Saharan African countries where it tackles challenges related to health, education, nutrition, livelihoods, gender equality and other vital issues.

Located in the Amansie-West district of the Ashanti region of Ghana, the Bonsaaso cluster of Millennium Villages consists of 6 distinct villages namely; Bonsaaso, Watreso, Datano, Keniago, Takorase and Asamang, with an estimated population of 5,000 residents per village. The region focuses on small scale agriculture, producing crops such as cocoa, oil palm, plantain and cassava.

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