Head of International Public Sector, Vodafone Business
Global economic growth is entering a transition period. Businesses worldwide are re-assessing technology and capital spending plans as a long period of overinvestment meets a slowdown amid the prospect of ongoing inflation.
That deceleration in the private sector brings into focus some of the exciting investments being made by the public sector in technology and innovation that can improve everyday lives. We’re big believers in the power of collaboration among companies, NGOs, and governments to solve hard problems and deliver real solutions.
Executed with a rigorous strategy and clear outcomes, partnerships between business and the public sector can ensure the kinds of outcomes that the unrestrained free market cannot, such as creating more equitable economic opportunities for underserved communities and reducing gaps in digital access and talent.
One model worth watching is the Global Partnership for Ethopia, a consortium of telecom companies (including Vodafone) that won that country’s first new telecoms license to bring more broadband competition and increased citizen access to financial, health, and education services. Nearly 80% of Ethiopians live in rural areas with no Internet access. The build-out could create more than one million jobs in the next decade and assist more than three million small businesses. Extending broadband access and digital infrastructure to rural areas will also help improve the lives of Ethiopia’s 12 million smallholder farming households by boosting crop yields and prices.
Improving agriculture through digital tools is also the goal of a new partnership between Vodafone and the European Space Agency’s Earth Observation Programme. The ESA’s satellite network produces remarkably detailed imaging data on drought, floods, and soil and crop health. Vodafone will integrate this data feed into MyFarmWeb, the cloud-based IoT platform run by Vodafone’s Vodacom subsidiary in South Africa. The MyFarmWeb cloud-based platform allows farmers to store, visualize and view the information gathered via agricultural Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and other data sources in the field.
With the addition of the ESA satellite data, growers who use the MyFarmWeb platform can make more precise decisions about applying water, fertilizer, and pesticides. That level of precision will lead to higher yields while reducing waste and the climate impact of excess inputs such as diesel fuel.
Borders and Human Rights
Vodafone Foundation has been collaborating with the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR since 2013 to transform classrooms in refugee camps and hosting communities into multimedia learning centers with solar-powered internet connectivity and classroom kits that include laptop, projector, and speaker along with educator training and localised digital content. By September 2022, the INS program has expanded to 84 Instant Network Schools across Africa, benefiting more than 225,000 children and 4,300 teachers through a digitally enabled learning environment.
The benefits of these new technologies for government institutions are clear. With wider broadband access, better data collection and analysis, improved public safety systems, and more efficient use of resources, government organizations can serve their citizens more effectively than ever before. And as more governments adopt these digital tools, we can all look forward to a safer and more prosperous future.
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