Premium smartphone brand TECNO today announced the renewal of its partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to support UNHCR’s global program in primary education, Educate A Child (EAC). The partnership aims to support the improvement of refugee children’s education in Africa, ensuring refugee children’s right to education and ultimately contribute to equal access to education for all.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the learning conditions of refugee children, causing school closures in Africa over the school year. By contributing financially to the EAC program, TECNO’s support has benefited children in Kenya’s Dadaab camp by providing them with textbooks and school kits. In addition, TECNO donated tablets to support continued learning of refugee children during school closure, as well as 50,000 medical face masks for UNHCR Kenya to support its COVID-19 response.
In 2021, TECNO and UNHCR will continue the partnership to benefit a total of 10,670 refugee children in Uganda and Kenya. TECNO’s financial contribution to the EAC program will contribute to the holistic intervention in these locations including improvement of school infrastructure, material assistance to students, training for teachers, and support for refugee students with special needs.
Uganda and Kenya are amongst the world’s top host countries for refugees. Uganda is the largest one in Africa. Over half of the refugees in the two countries are below 18 years old (58% in Uganda and 53% in Kenya). While some refugees may have the access to study in public educational institutions, the shortage of learning resources has put many refugee children at risk of dropping out of school. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, continuous commitment from TECNO is important to support a safe school reopening and better access for refugee children to continue their primary education, laying the foundation for them to pursue higher education in the future.
Vivian Tan, UNHCR Representative ad interim in China, expressed appreciation for the continued support from TECNO. “UNHCR welcomes this renewed partnership,” she said. “COVID-19 has interrupted learning in many countries, and refugee children are no exception. Support from our private sector partners like TECNO is critical for UNHCR to continue and strengthen our efforts to support refugee learners and students to continue their education in this difficult time, and in the post-COVID time. The Chinese private sector can play an important role in addressing the gaps in refugee education globally, including providing financial contribution, technology and innovative solutions. We hope more Chinese private sector actors will be inspired by the partnership between TECNO and UNHCR.”
Stephen Ha, General Manager of TECNO said, “With the renewed partnership with UNHCR, we hope to continue our support in improving the learning conditions of refugee children. As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility, TECNO is committed to giving back to the community where we are present. In the post-COVID time, we will amplify our efforts, especially using digital solutions to increase educational opportunity and enhance education quality for children in Africa so that they could receive better education and be better connected with the world.”
Inclusive and equitable quality education is Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and is also a long-term goal for UNHCR. Since 2020, UNHCR has been working with different partners to implement the EAC program that aims to provide 365,000 out-of-school children with primary education in 14 operations by 2022. Out of the 14 countries, Kenya and Uganda are two key operations. Despite the huge impact of COVID-19, UNHCR remains committed to advancing inclusive and equitable quality education for refugee children.
By the end of 2020, an estimated 4.2 million children and youth of concern to UNHCR have been affected by the pandemic globally. Once out of school, many refugee children will never return. UNHCR has been making efforts to create more equitable and inclusive educational access for displaced and refugee children so that they could all return to school. UNHCR and TECNO will deepen their partnership, through which they hope to engage more with corporate employees, partners and the wider public audience to strengthen understanding and support for education in Africa.
Facebook Halts ‘Instagram Kids’ Project Following Criticism
Facebook, which faced sharp criticism from lawmakers and users for its plan to develop an Instagram for kids, announced Monday it’s pausing work on the project.
“While we believe building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, will re-evaluate the project at a later date. In the interim Instagram will continue to focus on teen safety and expanding parental supervision features for teens,” the company said in a statement.
The pause comes after an explosive Wall Street Journal report showed Facebook repeatedly found its Instagram app is harmful to many teenagers. The Journal cited Facebook studies over the past three years that examined how Instagram affects its young user base, with teenage girls being most notably harmed.
One internal Facebook presentation said that among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram.
The report led lawmakers to readdress their concerns over the social media app. Just after the news broke, representatives on both sides of the aisle demanded answers from Facebook. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., also called on Facebook to abandon its Instagram for kids efforts.
Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, will testify before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection on Thursday.
“Critics of ‘Instagram Kids’ will see this as an acknowledgment that the project is a bad idea. That’s not the case. The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today,” he said. Instagram will pause its work to address concerns with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators.
Instagram will also work on expanding its parental controls to teen accounts.
“These new features, which parents and teens can opt into, will give parents the tools to meaningfully shape their teen’s experience,” Mosseri said.
Mobile Operators Experienced 16,000 Outages in Seven Months, Says Minister
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami has disclosed that there were about 16,000 reported outages by mobile network operators in the country from January 2021 to July 2021.
The outages, according to him, were due to fibre cuts, access denial and theft, leading to service disruption in the affected areas.
The Minister who disclosed this in Maiduguri, during a recent town hall meeting, where he addressed the vandalism of power and telecommunications infrastructure, noted that the protection of the critical infrastructural facility was key to the nation’s security, economic vitality, public health and safety.
The event, which was organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture, was attended by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, his Deputy, Mr. Usman Kadafur, and other stakeholders. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, led some other ministers who were panellists at the town hall meeting.
Pantami, who was represented by the Commissioner for Technical Services, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Ubale Maska, decried the situation where telecoms installations that were destroyed in the attacks by terrorists had not been replaced as a result of the lingering insecurity and tensions in parts of the North-east.
As a way forward, the minister recommended continuous stakeholders buying-in and synergy among security forces.
He also urged the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill for onward submission to the President for assent.
Pantami, also said the Fifth Generation (5G) network, that was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council, would be deployed in Nigeria in January 2022. He said when deployed, it would aid the surveillance of public assets against vandalism.
He said while the technology would boost surveillance against criminal elements vandalising public infrastructure across the country, other measures should be put in place to arrest them and bring them to book.
The minister disclosed that there were over 50,000 telecommunication sites across the country, which made it difficult to manage manually except through the deployment of modern technology.
Nigerian Energy Startup Secures $2M Investment From Shell-Owned Fund
Nigerian startup Infibranches Technologies, which helps solar energy providers manage their operations and receive payments, has secured US$2 million funding from All On, an impact investment company backed by oil major Shell.
Founded in 2019, the Lagos-based Infibranches has developed two flagship products – OmniBranches and Green Energy Plug – that help companies with large distribution networks, particularly solar home system distributors and mini-grid developers, manage their operations.
OmniBranches is a management platform with features that include agent hierarchy management, commission tracking, transaction records, transaction analytics, and profile management, while Green Energy Plug is a single point of integration for payments and other financial services for service providers in the Nigerian renewable energy sector.
So far the company has served over one million customers and processed over US$120 million in transactions, and the US$2 million All On investment will be used to support the next stage of its growth by financing inventory, agent acquisition, and product and technology development, as well as providing working capital for Infibranches’ plans to distribute solar home systems for households and commercial users across Nigeria, with a special focus in the Niger Delta.
“Through this investment, Infibranches plans to speed up customer acquisition in its current markets. This will also improve existing products like Omnibranches, which has served over a million customers and introduce new products and services to address energy distribution issues,” said chief executive officer (CEO) Olusola Owoyemi.
Dr Wiebe Boer, chief executive of All On, commended Infibrances for its innovative business model that solves payments and collections problems solar system distributors and mini-grid developers face across Nigeria.
“This partnership merges fintech and renewables in a way we haven’t seen in Nigeria before and will enable tens of thousands of new electricity connections,” he said.
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