MTN Foundation renovates, transforms Koboko Resource Centre with ICT equipment to boost digitization in the region.

  • Residents of Koboko district are set to benefit from Koboko Resource Center in West Nile following the renovation of the structure and installation of ICT equipment by MTN Foundation Uganda today.
  • MTN Uganda through MTN Foundation has invested UGX85million in the restoration of Koboko Resource center which included refurbishment of the physical structures and set up of a 10-computer lab facilitated with high speed internet connectivity for 1 year.  
  • The initiative by MTN is a reaffirmation of the telecom’s commitment to ensure Ugandans enjoy the benefits of a modern connected life.

 

Residents of Koboko district and surrounding areas are set to benefit from Koboko Resource Center in the West Nile region of Uganda following the renovation of the physical structure and installation of ICT equipment by MTN Foundation Uganda today. 

Founded in 1999, Koboko Resource Center is the only public library in Koboko District which was created to meet the critical educational needs of the youth in Koboko, Maracha and Yumbe. 

According to Peterlee Guma, the manager Koboko Resource Center, the establishment had for years struggled with dilapidated structures and received various concerns from the public about the lack of computers for advanced education research. 

“People used to complain about why we lacked computers especially when they wanted to look for information on the internet beyond the hardcopy books we had at the facility. We received numerous demands from students from surrounding Universities for computers and internet services in vain,” he narrated.

Following the distress call from the resource center, MTN Uganda through MTN Foundation has invested UGX85million in restoration of Koboko resource center which includes refurbishment of the physical structures and set up a 10-computer laboratory facilitated with high speed internet connectivity for 1 year.  

The computers are connected to a power stabilizer and 2 batteries to ensure uninterrupted power supply.

Speaking during the handover of the resource center in Koboko today, Samuel Gitta, the MTN Uganda General Manager Risk and Compliance said that MTN responded to the challenges faced by the resource center with the aim of transforming the lives of the people of West Nile.

MTN’s decision to enhance the operations of Koboko Resource Center is anchored on our belief that everyone deserves to enjoy the benefits of a modern connected life. It has also become apparent that ICT is a critical aspect embedded in our lives today, as the world transitions to digital, accelerated even more by the emergence of covid-19 two years ago. Therefore it is paramount that we all have the ability to employ ICT skills in our day to day lives to ensure we are not left behind,” Gitta noted.

While representing the Resident District Commissioner Koboko District, his deputy Vincent Mugenyi lauded MTN Foundation for supporting government’s mandate of driving digital transformation across the country, urging the residents of Koboko to embrace technology.

“ICT presents a huge potential to improve national productivity through job creation for the youth and facilitating the creation of solutions to challenges in society. Therefore, this move by MTN draws the country closer to realization of our ICT goals as highlighted in the National Development Plan 3 and Uganda’s Vision 2040 which identifies ICT as an opportunity to spur Uganda’s transformation into a modern and prosperous country,” Mukiibi said. 

Mukiibi also implored the people of Koboko to treasure and safeguard the resources to ensure sustained impact.

MTN Foundation is the vehicle through which MTN Uganda conducts its corporate social responsibility which over the years has left an impact in several districts spread across the country.

Similar to Koboko Resource Center, MTN Foundation has also carried out interventions in the sub-region including installing computer labs in Amelo Technical institute in Adjumani and Muni National Teachers College in Arua.

In the health sector, the Foundation renovated and equipped maternity wards of Aroi Health Centre III, Oriajin Health Centre III in Arua with a total of 30 hospital beds, mattresses, blankets, and mosquito nets, donated blood storage equipment at Arua Regional Blood Bank. The foundation also constructed and furnished a new maternity ward at Ibakwe HCII Obongi district and supported the refurbishment and equipping of the maternity ward of Packwach HCIV.

 

MTN Foundation boosts Schools in Kamwenge District through Infrastructure development.

  • MTN Foundation, the charity arm of MTN Uganda, has today handed over a newly constructed classroom block and staff quarters to Bigodi Secondary School and Rwengobe Primary School respectively.
  • By undertaking this initiative, MTN is fulfilling its commitment to the people of Uganda to continually support and contribute towards the socio-economic development of the country.

 

MTN Foundation, the charity arm of MTN Uganda, has today handed over a newly constructed classroom block and staff quarters to Bigodi Secondary school and Rwengobe Primary School respectively.

The project was funded by MTN Foundation and implemented through Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS), a non-government organisation dedicated to improving access to quality education in Uganda.

MTN Foundation through this project which cost nearly UGX350million, constructed and furnished a 3-classroom block at Bigodi Secondary School to create adequate learning space for the students.

The project also saw Rwengobe Primary School receive newly constructed staff quarters with the capacity to accommodate 6 teaching staff and the Head Master of the institution.

According to Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer, who was speaking at the official handover of the schools in Kamwenge today, by undertaking this initiative, MTN is fulfilling its commitment to the people of Uganda to continually support and contribute towards the socio-economic development of the country.

“We believe that this classroom block will alleviate challenges of congestion and limited learning space for the students while also creating an enabling environment for learning.  Through this project, MTN also hopes to create positive impact with ripple effects culminating into the social and economic development of the country,” he noted.

Information from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2021 abstract indicates that Kamwenge district has the third highest student to classroom ratio in the Western and South-Western region of Uganda. This implies that the district has the third highest number of students per classroom in the entire region after Sheema and Bundibugyo.

In addition, the abstract indicates that secondary school enrolment has reduced by 6% from 1.4m in 2016 to 1.3m in 2017.

The research spells out the need for increased efforts towards creating an enabling environment in secondary schools to encourage student enrolment.

With about 28 schools in Uganda, supporting over 1500 students to access quality education, PEAS continues to play a key role in improving the education sector in the country.

MTN Foundation has over the years invested heavily in improving infrastructure across schools in Uganda such as constructing classroom blocks and sanitary facilities at Kichwamba PEAS School in Kabarole, Noble PEAS High School and Aspire PEAS School in Ibanda district which has positively impacted thousands of students in the Western region.

While delivering his remarks, the Guest of Honour, the Outgoing Resident District Commissioner, Kamwenge district, Martin Mugabe lauded MTN Uganda for its support to the education sector in the Western region of Uganda noting it will play a critical role in alleviating some of the challenges faced by schools in the country.

“Teacher absenteeism is also another challenge that still persists within the education sector in Uganda. A World Bank report dubbed: the Global Corruption report in 2013 named Uganda as the country with the third highest rate of teacher absenteeism in the world, standing at 27%, yet the global ceiling is 30%. These challenges across schools in the country need to be tamed especially during this period of the pandemic, and I believe this initiative by MTN is one of the key solutions,” he said.

While further appreciating the MTN Foundation for this initiative, Mugabe also urged the administration and management of these schools to guard the new infrastructure with the aim of sustaining the impact for the long term.

MTN Foundation to set up facility to skill 400 girls annually.

  • MTN Foundation in partnership with Smart Girls Foundation has today embarked on the construction of a skilling facility with the capacity to train 400 girls annually in vocational programs.
  • The training facility will specialize in vocational and business upskilling, inclusive of courses like electricity installation, house painting, tailoring, carpentry, welding, catering, among others.
  • The launch of the event comes as the world joins together to celebrate the International Women’s day on March 8.

MTN Foundation in partnership with Smart Girls Foundation has today embarked on the construction of a skilling facility with the capacity to train 400 girls annually in vocational programs.

The facility which will be housed at the Smart Girls Foundation offices in Kampala will specialize in vocational and business upskilling, inclusive of courses like electricity installation, house painting, tailoring, carpentry, welding, catering, among others.

Speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony held in Kampala today, MTN Uganda General Manager for Customer Experience, Dorcus Muhwezi said the project is envisaged to give birth to 40 new women-led businesses in the country.

“The objective of the project is to widen career prospects and opportunities for women by diversifying and breaking the glass ceiling into careers that were previously regarded as a preserve for men,” Muhwezi said.

The project is expected to cost UGX230million which will facilitate the construction of an auto vehicle servicing station, a newly constructed washing bay and the renovation of 3 classrooms and a main hall with a capacity of 30 students per room.  In addition to training the young women, the vehicle servicing station and washing bay are also expected to ensure sustainability of the project through generating income for the Smart Girls Foundation for services rendered by the trainers to the public.

Smart Girls Foundation is a not for profit organisation centred on skilling and empowering the girl child with the vision to transform their lives for a brighter future.

In her remarks, the Guest of Honour, the Resident District Commissioner Wakiso District who was represented by John Baptist Nsaba, the RDC Representative welcomed the initiative by MTN saying it complements government’s ambitions towards promoting gender equality and empowering the girl child.

“I wish to commend MTN for consistently championing efforts geared towards supporting government’s vision and policies such as the equal opportunities policy and the UN sustainable development goal 5 which focuses on achieving gender equality and women empowerment,” she said urging other private sector players to emulate MTN’s initiatives to propel the country’s economic growth.

The launch of the project comes as the world joins together to commemorate the International Women’s day held on March 8 under the theme: Gender Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.

In celebration of the International women’s day, the MTN Foundation engaged in various activities with the young girls at Smart Girls Foundation including kitchen gardening and mentorship sessions in career guidance facilitated by members of the MTN Women Group.

The partnership between MTN Foundation and Smart Girls Foundation is one of many interventions undertaken by the former to empower women and girls in Uganda.

In June 2019, during the 21 days of YelloCare, the annual staff volunteerism initiative, MTN supported the Smart girls Foundation with a donation worth UGX30million with the aim of enhancing the girls’ learning experience. As a result, the organisation increased the number of girls trained at the facility from 30 to 64 in a wide range of programs including mechanical, electrical installations and welding.

In the same year, MTN announced UGX50m sponsorship towards the Kyabazinga Girl Child program aimed at supporting and improving the lives of women and youth in the Busoga region.

Similarly, MTN Foundation in 2016 partnered with the Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda Chapter (FAWEU) to provide full cover University Education scholarships for ten (10) Ugandan girls across the country.

National Curriculum Development Center lauds MTN for zero rating learning websites

National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC), the government body responsible for the development of educational curricula for primary, secondary and some tertiary institutions in Uganda has lauded MTN for its initiative to encourage learning from home by zero rating learning institution websites for students.

Gilbert Gift Siima, the curriculum specialist ICT at National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC) said the initiative enabled students who were studying from home to access learning materials during the lockdown.

This, he said was especially helpful for candidate students in the primary leaving examinations (PLE) and the O’level Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) who have recently received their results.

Following the closure of schools during the initial country lockdown, MTN in March last year allowed free access to 17 learning sites in partnership with NCDC to ensure students study from home while also enabling parents home school the children.

Some of the learning sites which can be accessed from https://www.mtn.co.ug/learnathome/  include:

http://www.classroommagazines.scholastic.com/

http://www.allinonehomeschool.com/

http://www.abcya.com/

http://www.splashlearn.com/

Some of the learning institutions include universities such as Makerere University, Uganda Christian University and Uganda Martyrs University among others.

Namubiru Agnes, a teacher and mother of two candidates from St Francis Education Center in Namawojjolo says her and her children benefitted a lot from reading materials on the zero rated websites.

“When they sent the children back home, they told us to access materials online and that is what I did. With the help of my sister who accessed the websites, I was able to homeschool my children. It helped us a lot to keep the children focused on education,” she recounts.

According to Siima, the sites have continuously recorded increased traffic signaling to the increased usage amongst the learners.

He lauded MTN for its efforts as a corporate citizen in enabling continuity of the education sector which has been hard hit by the covid-19 pandemic.

MTN Uganda General Manager Corporate services and legal, Enid Edroma said the telecom is glad to have partnered with NCDC to support the people of Uganda.

“MTN is dedicated to continuously support the people of Uganda. We understand the vitality of education especially to the youngsters in the country, and as such thought it necessary to ensure that they remain focused and studying at no cost to the parents whose incomes have also been affected by the pandemic,” Edroma noted.

This comes after the Ministry of education and sports released the PLE and UCE results last month.

MTN Foundation, Ubunifu Empower Youth As 60 Graduate From Youth Skilling Program

  • 60 youth have graduated in the first cohort of the MTN Foundation youth skilling program.
  • The program, which kicked off in December 2020 targeted 100 beneficiaries from university graduates, Small and medium enterprises and young innovators.
  • The youth skilling program is in line with MTN’s priority area focusing on youth as it seeks to inspire and empower them with the goal of creating practical ICT driven solutions to challenges in society.
Collage of graduates during the virtual graduation ceremony organised by the MTN Foundation and Ubunifu systems

60 youth have successfully graduated having attained digital and technical skills in the first cohort of the MTN Foundation youth skilling program.

The MTN Foundation youth skilling program is an initiative funded by MTN Foundation Uganda and implemented by Ubunifu systems aimed at inspiring and empowering youth with the goal of creating practical ICT driven solutions to challenges in society.

The program, which kicked off in December 2020 received nearly 2000 applications but only targeted 100 youth from university graduates, Small and medium enterprises and young innovators.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony held during an online webinar, The MTN General Manager Corporate services and Legal, Enid Edroma who was representing the MTN CEO congratulated the youth upon the accomplishment urging them to use the skills attained to improve their society.

“These graduands are not your ordinary people. They were picked out of 1900 applicants for the training. This was not a chance occurrence because within each one of you are certain special qualities that helped identify you as the right candidates and these include, the passion which we saw through your applications. We also noticed your resilience and positive outlook to life and its challenges,” Edroma said.

Edroma highlighted the resilience of the youth who quickly adapted to online training when the pandemic hit and interrupted the program.

The MTN youth skilling program which was entirely conducted online employed a three pronged approach tackling digital and technical skills as well as an incubation phase for aspiring entrepreneurs focused on four thematic areas including agriculture, health, education and youth empowerment.

Addressing the effect of the pandemic especially on the education sector, Edroma said covid-19 has accelerated the advancement and adoption of technology.

She however also noted that there are still gaps that need to be plugged especially in the lower education segments.

“There are areas that can still be better for instance primary and secondary education. It would be nice to see that segment also move into the digital space which will demonstrate the value of digitisation,” she said.

Edroma was reiterated by Brian Mbasa, the senior manager MTN Foundation who said the objective of the program is to empower youth to establish businesses which will have a trickle-down effect by employing other youth in society.

He explained that this is the first of many editions of the MTN youth skilling program as a new edition will kick off in January next year.

Sylvester Nyombi, the brand and communications manager, Ubunifu systems said the program enjoyed a diversity of youth having drawn people from 86 districts, with a high level of female participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Nagawa Hajara, one of the female graduates in the program said she has attained various skills which have been instrumental in aiding her establish her agribusiness training center.

Hajarah-Naggawa-one-of-the-graduands-during-the-skilling-program-conducted-online.

The graduation ceremony was graced with various dignitaries from the ICT sector such as Micheal Niyitegeka, International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) Africa country director and Kenneth Muhangi, advisor at ministry of ICT, who awarded certificates of excellence to the graduands.

The guest of honour, Honorable Sarah Mateke Nyirabashitsi, Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs commended MTN and Ubunifu systems for the initiative of skilling youth explaining that this has contributed a lot to improving the quality of labour in the country.

She also said that despite existence of similar government programs geared towards skilling the youth for example the youth livelihood program, there is still need for extra support from the private sector.

“Demand for affordable credit to support the youth to establish viable businesses is very high compared to the available funds I therefore appeal to the private sector to keep supporting us and implementing government programs,” she urged.

Hon Mateke said the program is timely and will be acknowledged during her first 100 days in office as the country prepares to celebrate the international youth day on August 12.

MTN trainee Smith saves the environment making footballs out of recycled plastic

Douglas Smith is an ardent lover of sports. The amor dates back to when the gentleman was young, barely aged enough to go to school. Every chance he got to play, it was football; soccer as some may like to call it. Fast forward, Smith has taken his love even further to play football for several clubs.

For the years he played, Smith always used balls made out of banana fibers because he could not afford those on the market.

‘Ehihajo’, they called them. ‘Ehihajo’ was the runyankole word used to mean expensive ball.

What flustered him was that despite the fact that the balls were imported, they were not durable, and yet cost an arm and a leg to buy.

So for the past three years, Smith, who runs a not for profit organisation called ‘The Smith Soccer Foundation’ which uses the power of soccer to bring about a positive social impact in communities, embarked on research that would later see him make his own soccer balls out of recycled plastic.

“Most of the soccer balls used in Uganda are imported. There hasn’t been any football manufacturing company in Uganda. Most of the imported soccer balls are very expensive and not durable. Also I came to find out that in Uganda over 2000 metric tons of waste is generated of which around 30% is plastic. After doing intensive research and studies, I came up with the idea of manufacturing soccer balls locally from recycled plastic waste,” he reveals, never mind that he was pursuing a diploma in medical laboratory technology.

Sportrise is born

At the dawn of 2020, Sportrise was born. Sportrise is a social enterprise company in Ibanda locally manufacturing durable and affordable soccer balls from recycled plastic waste.

Smith’s raw material is Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE) which is the commonest type of plastic in Uganda as it is derived from disposable plastic water and soda bottles.

It takes around 100 plastic bottles to make one ball.

“We have up to 10 plastic collection centres in Ibanda. We employ some young people that do the collections. We are currently innovating a digital way of encouraging young people to earn as they collect and drop plastic at our collection centres,” he narrates.

At Sportrise, Smith employs 27 people directly and indirectly including those that collect the plastic for recycling.

In one year, the 27 year old has earned about UGX12million from selling soccer balls and sportswear.

“We have made UGX12 million in sales from both Sportrise balls and Sportrise wear since May 2020 and have so far raised UGX120 million in seed funding. Whereas currently our sport wear is made of fabric, we are presently undertaking research on the feasibility of manufacturing sportswear (sportrise wear– including jerseys and footwear) from recycled plastic waste,” he says.

Currently an ordinary Sportrise ball goes for UGX40,000 and UGX50,000 for those that are customized.

Whereas Sportrise clientele are predominantly sports shops, local clubs, corporate companies, schools, individuals & politicians, the young lad from Mirambi Cell, Ibanda District has now embarked on partnering with football clubs to grow his sales.

“Last year we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ibanda Municipal SC 3rd division team as their official kit sponsor on a 2 year deal while they also play using our Sportrise balls. We plan to partner with many more clubs,” he explains.

Challenges

But being a first time business founder venturing in virgin territory of local football manufacturing, Smith has been faced with some challenges.

“Uganda has no football manufacturing plant where the team can benchmark to learn more about the ball making process. This calls for flying out of the country which is costly for a startup. Heavy reliance on imported products also limits acceptability of my local product,” he says.

Smith is skilled by MTN

Sportrise was the overall winner of the MTN ‘For Good Campaign’ having emerged victorious out of 100 participants that took part in 2020.

Owing to his victory, Smith was given a free pass to the MTN Foundation Youth Skilling Program (MYSP) which seeks to inspire and empower youth to become job creators through imparting financial and digital skills business knowledge. The MYSP, a partnership between MTN and Ubinufu systems hosts 100 participants trained in legal and taxation, computer essentials and technical skills among others.

Smith says; “The MTN Youth Skilling Program has really helped me a lot especially about financial management, record keeping, leadership etc. Being a first time founder, it was difficult running a startup company and leading my team but with the MTN Youth Skilling Program I now have over 80% of the skills. I think in the future I will strive not to make mistakes.”

As winner of the For Good Campaign, Smith was awarded 60GB for 6 months which he used to undertake more research and running his website. In addition, Smith says, the MTN ‘For Good campaign’ endorsement has enabled Sportrise to win several competitions and raise some money as well.

Nelson Munyanda, senior manager MTN Foundation says Sportrise is an example of a green company which falls in line with MTN’s environmental and social governance policy.

“It seeks to conserve the world through waste management which is a challenge for many in Uganda. At MYSP, the goal is to empower the youth to create ICT driven solutions to challenges in their community and I think Sportrise speaks to that,” he notes.

Like any other startup, Sportrise still faces some challenges which it will need to overcome before it can carry on with its ambition of scaling and competing on the global market.

Damba’s hearing impairment kindled his search for entrepreneurial skills from MTN youth skilling program

Harunah Damba lived an ordinary life until the fateful year of 2015.  Falling ill for about three years, the young man slowly started to lose his hearing ability. Ear by ear, the sound disappeared. The silence was so loud. At only 22 years, Damba became deaf.

“In 2015, I suffered an illness and developed difficulty in hearing. The problem started with my left ear and later shifted to my right ear, and soon silence etched in both my ears,” he narrates.

After several failed attempts by medical doctors to treat his illness, an old lady convinced Damba’s parents to take him home. She advised that they use herbal medicine which they also later learnt was useless.

Faced with the new reality that he would be deaf, Damba did not take it so well. It was no easy feat.

“I didn’t know any bit of sign language and neither did my parents nor relatives. I used to live in seclusion because it was difficult, almost impossible for me to engage in any conversation. While in such a situation, I could see that most of my friends with similar impairment had a lot on their mind, asking questions like; would we ever get a decent living and or good employment?” he recounts.

Corridor talk from the Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) fraternity illuminated him to the discrimination that would befall him in the employment market.

“I knew the future was going to be hard without any form of self-employment,” he says. It was at that moment that Damba made the decision to become an entrepreneur.

Damba is an entrepreneur

With the help of his dad, Damba has made strides in his ambitions.

At only 27 years, in a country reeling with youth unemployment, Damba owns a garden, sugarcane plantation and a poultry house of both local and exotic birds. The young lad also leased land for a brickmaking project.

He earns enough from his businesses to meet his needs.

Damba is also a beacon amongst the PWD fraternity in Bweyogerere where he is the chairperson-elect of PWDs at the parish and founder of United Persons with Disabilities (UPWDs), a disabled peoples’ organization in Bweyogerere parish.

“The organization has transformed into a social impact body tackling youth unemployment and increasing empowerment. We are still in the budding stage and using our own resources to set an example of what we really committed to. Currently, we are running two projects for the benefit of PWDs; bead making and poultry, and we are devising means of investing in mushroom growing,” he reveals.

Damba qualifies as a jack of all traits having volunteered at Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) as a junior scientist before the covid-19 outbreak.

“I am thrilling at the epitome of my efforts. At the moment, I am looking at ways to expand my businesses and also integrate modern technologies,” he revels in his success.

MTN Youth skilling program

It was in his efforts to expand his business and hone skills in digital technology and youth social entrepreneurship that Damba landed on the MTN youth skilling program which he has since learnt extensively from.

“I am greatly enthralled to discover how ICT and entrepreneurship is bridging the rampant unemployment gap, and making PWDs resourceful and valuable. I commend the approach being used to train the next generation of young leaders which involves a paid training to acquire an internationally recognized International Certificate of digital literacy (ICDL) with cutting-edge modules tailored to our problems, business training, networking and mentorship,” he says.

Bearing Haruna’s hearing impairment in mind, the youth skilling program which was conducted online, ensured he was included through utilizing zoom online services which carried captions for interpretation.

“The zoom app has inclusive features like automatic captioning and a chat window. So I utilized them to always ask whenever I had not understood the concept and they were indeed mindful of the fact that the program includes people like me. We also heard google classroom and this is where most of the content was posted from class materials to reference content,” he explains.

He goes on to add; “I see this opportunity as an optimal catalyst for me to launch a career in ICT and youth social entrepreneurship to the level where I can create economic and employment opportunities for not only myself but also a wider range of individuals.”

Challenges

In spite of this success, it has not been a rosy journey for the young gentleman from Namanve. His hearing impairment has cost him friends and shone upon him a judgmental light in society.

“Most of my friends do not know sign language and many could not spare time to write while communicating to me. Many of them felt offended when I retorted because of my disability that I couldn’t hear them and that they please write down what they are saying. Also, many still have the false perception against us, the disabled. They see our disability more than our abilities. They are quick to judge what I can and can’t do because of my disability, yet I am more than what they perceive me to be,” he notes.

Shaking off the grim, Damba believes the future is bright.

He is certain that he is now an asset to drive his association; UPWDs, from a grass root level to an internationally recognized institution, having attained knowledge and skills in resource mobilization, business setup and management along with soft skills: networking, collaboration, presentation among others.

In five years, Damba envisions himself as a successful entrepreneur.