Ericsson, Coca-Cola, Tigo Rwanda and Solar Kiosk are piloting EKOCENTER, a social enterprise initiative designed to empower community well-being by bringing safe water, solar power and mobile communications, as well as basic goods and services to underserved communities.
In a statement made available to TechMoran, Tongai Maramba, CEO of Tigo Rwanda, says: “We are excited to be part of pioneering an ecosystem that will change the lives of entire communities. The EKOCENTER is an ideal platform for Rwandans to use our network to develop new skills by accessing different digital services.”
The partnership will begin in Rwanda, with a view to expanding the partnership to other countries. Tigo will assist with rural Internet and 3G coverage.
Coca-Cola work with Solarkiosk to roll-out EKOCENTER in six countries in Africa and Asia in 2015 while Ericsson will initially deploy its Managed Rural Coverage (MRC) solution to provide Internet services to the EKOCENTER in rural Rwanda.
Ericcson’s TV Anywhere and M-Commerce service will enable access to education and healthcare content as well as infotainment capabilities and enable people to make transactions using their mobile wallets respectively.
Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson said: “Mobile broadband can address a wide range of issues that hinder development – from poverty to lack of electricity and safe water, to financial exclusion and gender inequality. Creating a community hub is a great way to empower women while making needed services available in a convenient way. The constellation of companies partnering to figure out commercially sustainable business models is very exciting and I think we will need to see much more of this type of innovation going forward to meaningfully address poverty and development in rural areas.”
The modular kiosks will be run by local women entrepreneurs, and serve as a community center where people gather and have access to free and fee-based services. The new connectivity services could include education, health care, mobile commerce, information and entertainment.
Lars Kruckeberg, CTO of Solarkiosk says the firm’s mission is the economic and social development in Base of the Pyramid communities worldwide and their solar-powered systems provide a safe solution for off-the-grid communities, enabling them to conduct everyday activities many of us take for granted.
“Partnering with Coca-Cola and Ericsson brings us another step closer to fulfilling our goal of helping meet community needs,” concluded Lars.