|Issue:||Africa and the Middle East 2015|
|Topic:||Enabling Progress through Wireless Broadband in Africa:|
A personal account of a door opener technology and its growing effect on education
Giora Levi, CEO, Alvarion
Appointed in 2013, Giora Levi is managing Alvarion’s activities worldwide. With over 15 years of experience in leading management roles with international companies, Giora provides unmatched leadership experience for Alvarion Technologies.
Before Joining Alvarion, Giora lead the global operations of Ness Technologies, A global provider of IT services. Leading over 130 employees worldwide, including Romania, Giora managed over Quarter of a Billion Dollar of annual budget.
Giora Levi is a Lieutenant-Colonel (Reserve) in the IDF, with over a decade of experience in command roles in an elite combat Unit. Giora participated in management education programs at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France and the Fortune Group International Inc in the USA
In addition to leading Alvarion, Giora is the General Manager of Mobile Tornado, a provider of advanced instant communication solutions such as Push-To-Talk, Push-To-Alert, and Push-To-Locate. In this role, Giora is leading mobile Tornado’s growing business, as the company’s solutions are used by mobile operators worldwide, including Rom-Telecom, to replace soon to be obsolete iDEN and other radio solutions.
Managing the two companies in parallel, Giora optimizes the synergy between them, offering not only the best Push-To-Talk solution in the world for 3G/4G cellular networks, but also the state-of-the-art wireless infrastructure to support it
It was Confucius, the great political educator who said: “If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.” In an era in which education has been set free by Internet access, Broadband is opening the door to education in Africa and throughout its rural areas in particular. Only through investments in education and knowledge will it be possible to overcome global inequality. The influence of the internet in this connection is pivotal to enable both education and the resulting progress that will follow.
Although I have always made a point of being familiar with the African market, the effect of wireless broadband on this immense and diverse continent is still astounding. For me, living in a globalized community in which everyone – and everything – is easily connected and accessible, has simply become a fact of life over these years. In Africa, the progression of connectivity has taken a very different path due to its vast population and size, and mainly a result of the huge disparities between its many cultures, governments and policies. As a result, Africa has developed high mobile broadband penetration rates in certain areas, whereas others continue to exhibit digital illiteracy and under-developed infrastructures that are essential to progress.
Despite that fact that Africa is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world, only 7% of the continent’s inhabitants are online. The Internet’s limited reach is further compounded because the language of the web is English and mobile connectivity is limited as only 18% of Africa’s mobiles are smartphones. The continent’s large population also means there are vast regional differences in access to broadband and in areas with low usage and penetration rates, there are those who will be blocked from access to and participation in many of the opportunities that those in other countries take for granted. For these reasons and more, Africa has become a major focal point for numerous organizations dedicated to promoting connectivity as a means to catalyze general access to information, economic growth and wide-spread education.
Africa’s youthful and rapidly expanding population is a ready market of eager telecom consumers, and Broadband in Africa is not being deployed far or fast enough. Proven solutions that will enable the network to reach a larger part of the population are being sought out by world leaders, international, regional, national, and non-governmental organizations, research institutes and industries. As the unlimited opportunities that come with broadband access have been clearly established, providing network access to rural communities is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) defined by the World Summit on the Information Society. Although the major 8 MDGs defined for achievement by 2015 are seemingly unrelated, there is one common thread that will enable this level of progress across the board – the proliferation of access to ICT. Classified in three broad areas – education, health and the environment, attaining the MDGs is dependent on how countries embrace the power of broadband to facilitate the interlinked goals.
Telecommunication companies in Africa are looking at Broadband Wireless Access technologies as the key to making Internet available to the population at large and I am a firm believer in its ability to solve Africa’s infrastructural challenges over the next ten years. I believe that the eight MDGs are inseparable – that if you battle disease you can reduce mortality; if you give children access to primary education, you will promote gender equality and so forth. It is because these goals are interweaved that wireless broadband is so important.
It was Confucius, the great political educator who said: “If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.” In an era in which education has been set free by Internet access, Broadband is opening the door to education in Africa and throughout its rural areas in particular. Only through investments in education and knowledge will it be possible to overcome global inequality. As aforementioned, the influence of the internet in this connection is pivotal to enable both education and the resulting progress that will follow.
Major studies show that when introduced into schools and campus environments wireless broadband can achieve higher student engagement, support deeper and more complex learning, and improved performance on state standards and benchmarks. Wireless connectivity, with its ease of use and quick setup, is becoming the main choice for broadband connectivity in education. A successfully implemented Digitized University project, funded by Google and the Nigerian Government that introduced end-to-end Wi-Fi Coverage at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Enugu Campuses NAD makes for an interesting case study in this area. Known for their large green areas and numerous scattered buildings, classrooms and offices, University campuses, with relatively digitally literate inhabitants are prime candidates for smooth wireless incorporation and an excellent starting point for enhancing connectivity in Africa. Ubiquitous campus coverage providing always-on access to university intranet services and to the internet is enriching education experiences, facilitating modern e-learning computerized education programs and information sharing and allowing better education for all.
The Nigerian project created highly reliable broadband connectivity for 40,000 students, 8,000 staff members and 10,000 laptops. As a result, literacy and digital literacy programs have been successfully implemented, both on campus and via the internet through an e-learning network designed specifically for this area. In other countries, such as Uganda, governmental support of ICT development has catapulted the country forward – particularly in the field of education which is seeing an upsurge in university graduates at those institutions that are connected. These are the things that I believe Internet, specifically wireless broadband infrastructures facilitating its reach, can and will continue to do for Africa.
In healthcare, broadband is helping countries with scarce resources overcome the challenges that come with physical distances in rural areas, a lack of skilled healthcare workers, high costs and chronic illnesses. A sever lack of trained healthcare workers is further hindering progress. Access to education and remote resources, enabled by innovative technologies and wireless broadband networks is opening up new frontiers of progress and facilitating governments in mitigating the spread of disease, training skilled workers and providing remote healthcare when appropriate. For rural areas in particular this catalyst is revolutionary.
As I plan my next visit to Africa, to oversee various wireless broadband projects that are opening doors to a newer, safer Smart City, innovative literacy programs, and access to information that was never before possible – I am in awe of its people and its capabilities and remain hopeful for its future. Wireless broadband, as a partner solution to fixed and mobile networks, is literally setting this country’s rural areas free and I am proud to be a part of it.