Airtel Africa empowers entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa through digital solutions

07 July 2020

There is no doubt that digital technologies will enable sub-Saharan Africa to overcome many of its challenges. This is because they present a solution to the lack of physical infrastructure, while also opening up the digital economy. E-health, E-education, E-energy and E-agriculture are creating endless opportunities for African entrepreneurs.

Everything is converging to make digital technology the main driver of economic and social development. Airtel Africa is committed to supporting pioneering enterprises, focusing on digital solutions to serve low-income communities across sub-Saharan Africa.

E-health – improving the efficiency of healthcare systems

Using mobile apps, e-health can help improve the transmission of information between healthcare professionals and patients, such as contact-tracing and vaccination records. When Madagascar experienced an outbreak of plague Airtel Madagascar supported the WHO and the Malagasy Government to implement a comprehensive strategic response plan on the communication of prevention, symptoms, transmission and treatment of the disease. Through the introduction of a number that gave all subscribers free access to the WHO, a widespread SMS campaign and a free IVR service, Airtel Madagascar raised public awareness around prevention, reducing incidents in the community due to ignorance.

E-education – enabling universal access to a higher quality of education

Digital technology presents a great educational opportunity, enabling universal access to quality teaching and reducing illiteracy.
Accelerated by Covid-19, E-education is making its way successfully into all levels of the educational system. Airtel Kenya is the first and main distribution partner of Kukua, a media and technology startup. They have developed and are distributing a learning application, SEMA Run, that teaches children aged 5-10 how to read, write and understand basic maths. The aim is to improve children’s literacy skills, through an interactive mobile game, targeting 2 million Airtel subscribers. Children can learn at their own pace, get lots of practice and achieve specific goals, while the literacy pedagogy used as the backbone of SEMA was designed by leading literacy and education experts.

E-energy - access facilitation to energy through prepaid services

Access to electricity is essential for people’s lives and livelihoods: from using fridges to storing food and medicine, charging mobile phones to stay connected, lighting up households and schools at night, to powering local businesses. Well-suited to small, remote communities, solar-powered mini-grids can be the answer, as cheaper, greener option for rural electrification.

E-energy solutions bring together off-grid Solar Home Systems (SHS), Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M) technologies. Airtel Chad enables Alternaprod Tchad SAS, a solar panel operator to remotely control SHS and mini-grid farm products, de-activating them if a customer’s monthly pre-payments are missed as well as proactive servicing on active systems, such as degraded batteries or dusty solar panels. Airtel Chad supports access to solar energy, by enabling the operators to pay using Airtel Money either before or after the use of the solar panels.

E-agriculture – farms’ productivity increases through mobile agriculture services

The sub-Saharan Africa region accounts for more than 950 million people, which is roughly 13% of the global population. By 2050, this population is projected to increase to 2 billion. Although livestock contributes an estimated 25% of sub Sahara’s GDP the region still faces persistent challenges to bridge the increasing demand for agricultural production, while the lack of available tools prevents the full use of all available resources. E-agriculture solutions can help remedy this. Thanks to the use of drones and dedicated software, some actions can be performed remotely, using interactive maps, 360° crop and livestock monitoring, staff management and data analysis. By monitoring all available data farmers can achieve maximum yields for each plot of land.

Airtel Uganda has committed to supporting Jaguza Farm, a startup designed to support livestock farmers, with a data-driven, real-time platform to aid their decision making and help automate some of their processes. Airtel Uganda will support with the provision of a reliable, last-mile connection for farmers. Assisted by Airtel’s 4G network, this solution will enable the monitoring, tracking and tracing of livestock. Airtel Uganda’s M2M, USSD, bulk SMS, Airtel Money, internet and cloud services will complement the startup company’s solution in increasing farmers’ productivity, through mobile agriculture services.
The rapidly evolving challenges affecting all stakeholders within the healthcare, education, energy or agriculture industries has prompted greater need for innovation and that has meant turning to digital technology solutions. They cover:

• Real-time access to information: e.g. weather forecast or virus evolution.
• Payment solutions: all mobile financial services including insurance, credit or savings.
• Identity: identification and authentication enabling access to business applications.
• Human or device monitoring: IoT platform, sensors and data analytics solutions
• Connectivity services: Fixed data or mobile internet.

Harnessing the power of technology and empowering farmers, teachers, solar operators or doctors with the information to better manage their businesses and make informed decisions can help transform sub-Saharan Africa. With access to these types of skills a continuing challenge in Africa and the costs of innovation and IT also a factor, it pays to work with the right partner to deliver.

So, how can Airtel Africa support African enterprises digitally?

1. As a leading telecom operator in 14 countries, Airtel Africa can provide fixed and mobile connectivity for voice and data services, data center and cloud services, M2M, productivity and collaboration solutions, mobile applications and mobile financial services.
2. Airtel Africa can leverage eco-systems and co-innovate with startup companies, technology providers, global partners, run proofs of concepts, as well as testing new business models with enterprise customers.
3. Airtel Africa can promote co-operation and partnerships between African enterprises and governments, NGOs and international institutions to accelerate their solutions.

If you would like to talk about digital technology transformation, please get in touch.
Luc Serviant, Group Enterprise Director, Airtel Africa