Roke Telkom and Hello World, a UK-based Charity firm have partnered to provide internet to learners in rural areas so as they can study online following the President’s directive to close all schools for 42 days. The learners will be able to study online through a network of internet hubs set up by Roke Telkom and Hello World.
The partnership will see Roke Telkom and Hello World help remote and marginalized upcountry communities that are underserved by the internet, access digital education —building 14 solar-powered ‘Hello Hubs’, 8 of which are in Nakivale refugee settlement, 2 in Kampala, and 4 in Fort Portal. By design, every Hello Hub is a Wi-Fi hotspot and offering free access to the internet, courtesy of Roke Telkom.
The learners will be in a position to study online from home in a bid to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Michael Mukasa, the Chief Commercial Officer at Roke Telkom, says the disruptions occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic have pushed children in rural and refugee communities further to the edge with many likely to drop out permanently from the education system.
“Covid-19 has had a grim impact on children. However, our partnership with Hello World has in many ways been a silver lining because we have been able to extend access to at least 14,000 kids in underserved and unprivileged rural communities in a time when physical attendance in schools is a risk,” Mukasa said in an interview.
As part of the Roke Plus offering, Meeting Apps and Office Suit Apps are zero-rated, to eliminate barriers that could make it difficult for learners and teachers to interact virtually during such times which require social distancing. This zero rate also enables business owners to reduce the cost of data as they can coordinate, communicate with their teams at no charge.
“At Roke Telkom, innovation has always been at the center of what we do. At a time when learning was shifting from the physical classroom to virtual spaces, we rolled out these internet hubs to help children study at no cost. And we are impressed with the impact it has had – especially protecting them from risks that could have had long-term effects on their physical, emotional, and cognitive outcomes,” explained Mukasa.
Majority of Ugandans particularly in rural areas, the internet remains out of reach.
According to UCC’s December 2020 Communications Market Performance report, the country’s internet penetration rate at the end of 2020 stood at 52 percent with the number of active internet subscriptions standing at 21.4 million, translating into an internet access reach of more than 1 active connection for every 2 Ugandans.