Liquid Telecom: bridging the digital divide with free WiFi
Business Chief takes a look at how leading African telecommunications company - Liquid Telecom - is helping to bridge the digital divide in education.
What is the Edu-Zones initiative?
Edu-Zones is a long term, CSR initiative established by Liquid Telecom in July 2018, by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Professor dr. Amon Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.
The aim of the initiative is to help bridge the digital divide for students with free WiFi access, which is delivered across its high-speed fibre network.
What impact has the initiative had?
To date, Liquid Telecom has successfully rolled out this initiative in 48 higher and tertiary learning institutions in Zimbabwe, as part of its broader agenda to equip citizens with access and skills in this digital age. The free internet comes in the form of Wi-Fi zones, which are typically found in cafeterias, halls of residence and sports fields.
The telecommunications company is also equipping students with its 21CSkills online learning platform. The platform provides training and development programmes on the latest technologies for African students, start-ups, and developers, to drive Africa’s fourth industrial revolution.
“We believe every individual on the African continent has the right to be connected. This is the vision that has been driving Liquid Telecom’s network expansion across Africa over the last ten years and, in Zimbabwe, why we launched Edu-Zones. Almost 18 months later students and teachers from 48 learning institutions across the country are benefitting from high speed, reliable internet connectivity that is critical for both curriculum and studies. This has resulted in vastly improved exam pass rates and career opportunities across the student population. Edu-Zones is a long-term initiative which is already helping the connected universities and polytechnics to save money on internet data costs,” said Wellington Makamure, Regional CEO of Liquid Telecom’s Southern Africa Region.
For more information on business topics in the Middle East and Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief MEA.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.