Blog · 06 Sep 2019

Sharing the power of communications in Africa

How BT is working in Africa to grow digital literacy and enhance lives.

I believe in the power of communications to build a better world. It’s what we strive to achieve at BT and it’s the reason people are inspired to work for us and with us.

The theme of power and empowerment runs through everything we do as we support our customers to fulfil their aspirations and create possibilities for themselves.

But, as the world is increasingly shaped by technology, the rapid pace of change is leaving some people behind. That’s why, as a starting point for inclusion, we use our infrastructure, skills and expertise to connect communities around the world to the internet. This helps to improve healthcare and education, as well as creating job opportunities and enhancing people’s lives.

Digital skills for a digital world

Our work to deliver the true power of communications goes beyond simply providing connectivity. People need tech literacy too — the tools and skills vital to prepare for the challenges that tomorrow brings. From sparking digital thinking in schoolchildren, to helping people build their digital confidence, we’re committed to nurturing the desire to succeed. And time and again, as I visit our investments in communities at home and abroad, I’m inspired by the huge and positive difference to people’s prospects digital skills can make. 

Enhancing lives in Africa

Recently, I was hugely proud to take part in the opening of one of our latest projects in South Africa to celebrate Mandela Day. We unveiled a fully-equipped, BT-sponsored computer lab at Sibusisiwe Comp Tech High School in Kwa-Zulu Natal, to strengthen digital literacy skills amongst students who don’t have computer access at home. 

We have been watching our learners who form part of the digital literacy programme acquire technology-based skills they have previously not been exposed to – and it has been so rewarding to see their progress!”.

Sipho Khomo
School principal

As part of an outreach programme that’s targeted at creating access for remote and previously disadvantaged communities, the lab will help to build more inclusive societies. Our hope is that these societies will then thrive in today’s fast-paced, digitally-transforming world.

Elsewhere in South Africa, we work closely with Coca-Cola to offer free internet access to impoverished communities by setting up wi-fi on Coca-Cola machines. By establishing internet connectivity, we encourage people to use technology and their creativity to harness the possibilities of the global digital environment.  

South Africa is far from the only place I’ve seen our vision around the development of ICT skills come to life on the continent. Our long history of partnering with SOS Children’s Villages has seen us use BT satellite services to bring free broadband to remote villages in thirteen African countries. BT’s Connecting Africa project brings online education and clinical apps to communities, helping to protect children from social isolation and boosting life chances.

My recent trip to Africa also gave me a chance to see how our people put our desire to enhance lives into action. It’s humbling to witness our teams taking our spirit of empowerment and finding ways to bring it to life in their everyday encounters, such as donating groceries to support Tshwaranang Children’s Home’s feeding scheme that nourishes around 300 children, genuinely making a difference to the community. 

These projects in Africa are just a fraction of the global work we undertake, driven by our brand ethos of using the power of communications to make a better world through creating a meaningful, sustainable digital impact. You can find out more about our wider commitments by reading our Building Better Digital Lives report