8 November 2019 | 2 minutes

Our concrete and digital worlds have become so entwined that we could never go back.

The world is more connected than it has ever been; more efficient, more convenient, more fun at times. We don’t have to wait to get home to make a phone call or wait to develop the photographs we have taken. We don’t even have to walk around with multiple devices to do multiple things. A big part of our world is in the palms of our hands and we thrive on it. While the convenience, efficiency and fun are welcome, the digital world offers so much more than that. It offers the chance to make meaningful connections.

The 2019 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) focused on a central theme of using digital technologies to transform lives in a positive way. This theme resonates with the way the digital world is impacting the lives of people living in Africa.

Our continent is extremely vast. Cities and rural areas of the same countries are often far from each other, which means that traveling between the two is not always easy. For an African person living in a remote location, making a living often means leaving your hometown and your family behind to find a job in the city. A city where nobody knows you, where everything is different, where it is likely to feel lonely, even in a crowd. The digital world in the palm of such a person’s hand is a connection to home. Gone are the days of hoping that a letter to the family arrived via snail mail, or struggling to send money home to a village where bank accounts are not the norm. Today, all these things can easily be achieved with a smartphone and an internet connection.

MTN provides coverage to cities and rural areas in 17 African countries, and that coverage brings people closer together.   

For business owners who want to expand to other markets, the cost of hosting a meeting doesn’t have to include a flight or a long drive. Video and audio calls have become so common across many digital platforms, that it is evolving into the new norm. Facebook reports that 400 million people are making video and audio calls every month, while WhatsApp is used for 100 million audio calls every day. For an entrepreneur who needs to keep costs down but also needs to grow, this technology makes a meaningful impact.

The ITU Forum wants telecommunication companies to consider how we can make connectivity affordable, relevant and fit for purpose so that meaningful connections can be brought to every person in the world. They want “local content in local languages, supported by digital skills, digital education and digital awareness”. We are proud to be able to claim that we as MTN are already doing all of these things.

With 560 million Africans covered, any dream can become a reality.

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