Vodafone Donates $1 Million in Support of World Wide Web Foundation Initiatives
Grant to Fund Training of Entrepreneurs in Africa
LONDON and BOSTON – March 17, 2010 – World Wide Web Foundation (Web Foundation), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the Web to empower people, announced today that the world's leading mobile telecommunications company Vodafone Group, will donate $1 million toward projects that will train entrepreneurs in Africa to leverage the Web as a platform for delivering locally relevant content, applications and services. Some of the funding will also go to research what needs to be done to make the Web more accessible and valuable to people in developing economies.
While only 25 percent of the world population uses the Web today, more than 70 percent of the world’s population has access to mobile or fixed communication devices capable of displaying Web content. In Africa, where the Internet penetration rate is approximately 6.8 percent, furthering Web access can create learning opportunities for local entrepreneurs and support the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to end poverty by 2015. Vodafone’s $1 million grant over a three year period is intended to help the Web Foundation understand the barriers to mobile Web access in Africa and support efforts to train social and economic entrepreneurs to create relevant Web content that is also accessible – even on simple mobile phones.
“It is clear that the creation of the World Wide Web combined with the growing ubiquity of mobile technology presents us with a unique opportunity to drive positive change,” said Vittorio Colao, CEO Vodafone Group. “The work of the Foundation will help us understand how society is adapting to new technologies. We will use the insights to help shape the communications infrastructure of the future in order to give as many people as possible access to the benefits that the Web provides.”
As part of its support, Vodafone invited the Web Foundation to join its research panel which looks into the Socio-Economic Impact of Mobile (SIM) in society. The current SIM project is exploring the impact of mobile broadband in emerging economies. The results are expected in autumn 2010.
Vodafone has long been committed to providing products and services designed to benefit emerging economies where mobiles are used, valued and owned in ways that are very different from developed countries. For example Vodafone recently announced the release of ultra low cost handsets (ULCH) which will retail at under $15 and are intended to give those on low incomes the opportunity to share in the benefits of mobile technology for the first time.
“As a member of our Founders Circle, Vodafone strengthens our grass-roots initiatives to help people leverage the Web and improve the quality of their lives,” explained Steve Bratt, Chief Executive Officer of Web Foundation ”Vodafone's donation will also support our research efforts to understand the technical and social barriers to making the Web of real value to people.”
Founded by the inventor of the Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Web Foundation announced its first projects last November at the 2009 Internet Governance Forum in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The Foundation’s work helps local communities and international organizations, such as CDI (Center for Digital Inclusion) and the Web Alliance for Re-greening in Africa (W4RA), design, implement and deploy mobile Web content to accelerate learning and economic progress in developing economies and urban areas.
"In developing countries, mobile phones can be used to get online, but few people have access to the Web," said Berners-Lee, Founder of Web Foundation. "We want to understand how Web access mutually relates to health and economic development in the next few years."
1 Internet Usage and Population Statistics provided by Internet World Stats are for September 30, 2009
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Vodafone Group Plc is the world's leading mobile telecommunications company, with a significant presence in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the United States through the Company's subsidiary undertakings, joint ventures, associated undertakings and investments.
At 31 December 2009, based on the registered customers of mobile telecommunications ventures in which it had ownership interests at that date, the Group had 333 million customers, excluding paging customers, calculated on a proportionate basis in accordance with the Company's percentage interest in these ventures.
About World Wide Web Foundation
World Wide Web Foundation develops transformative programs to advance the Web as a medium that empowers people to bring about positive change. Created under a seed grant from the John S and James L Knight Foundation, the Web Foundation brings together business leaders, technology innovators, academia, government, NGOs, experts, developers and end users to tackle challenges that, like the Web, are global in scale. By funding education, outreach, research and the next generation of Web technologies, Web Foundation strives to enable all people to share knowledge, access services, conduct commerce, participate in good governance and communicate in creative ways. Web Foundation is a registered tax exempt, public charity in Switzerland and the United States. Please visit www.webfoundation.org/programs for more information about Web Foundation and its new programs.