How Tigo is transforming lives through S.D.G.

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In September 2015, over 130 world leaders gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York, and adopted the...


In September 2015, over 130 world leaders gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York, and adopted the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with some 169 targets. Described by the outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for the future, the goals are aimed to tackle issues from education, climate change, hunger, gender equality, sanitation, technology among others is to be implemented over the next 15 years. Some have described the SDGs as too ambitious, while others believe that it’s a positive step as a shared vision to improve lives globally. With an estimated cost of around US$22 trillion attached to achieving the goals, it will be impossible for governments to shoulder the entire cost; private sector support will be much needed.

One of the several private companies in Ghana that are driving the implementation of the goals is Mobile Network Operator, Tigo, a subsidiary of Millicom International Company which is based in Africa and Latin America. Delivering on the goals and ensuring that company remains responsible to local communities, Tigo has developed a number of initiatives to improve local communities and people.  Some of the impactful projects are Shelter for Education, the Mobile Digital Library van and Automated Birth Registration system.

Ghana’s first digital mobile library:

This was launched in 2015 as a partnership between Tigo and Street Library, an organisation founded by one of Tigo’s Digital Change-makers, Hayford Siaw. It is an initiative towards encouraging digital inclusion for children in rural communities. The van is retro-fitted with tables, chairs and laptops, kindles and tablets to introduce children to their first digital experience.  Apart from the practical lessons on the devices, the innovation has also digitized books on the laptops, making it possible for to also read. One year after the launch, the Digital Mobile library van has benefited over 20, 000 children in rural communities within the Greater Accra, Eastern and Volta regions. ICT teachers in various communities have also been using it to give practical lessons to pupils. Through the outreach programmes in communities and schools, it came to light that most pupils had never seen or touched an e-reader.

Providing infrastructure for quality education is an expensive investments that not many corporate organisations can take on, it is usually the preserve of government, faith-based institutions and international organisations. In 2015, Tigo took a bold initiative to provide infrastructure for 6 deprived communities. Themed ‘Shelter for Education’ the project included the construction of a 6-unit classroom block, an office for the head teachers, a staff common room and KVIP for each school. The beneficiary schools include Ejura Sekyere-Dumase MA School in the Ashanti region; Tupaa Basic School in GA South of the Greater region; Obeng Yaw Basic School in Adeiso of the Eastern region; St Joseph Primary School in Obuasi in the Ashanti region; Dimabi Nursery and Primary School in Tolon Kumbumgu of the Northern region; and Banda Ahenkro MA School in Banda Ahenkro of the Brong Ahafo region.

The company also provided school uniforms, shoes and teaching and learning materials including exercise books, chalk and others. All the schools were either dilapidated or in make-shift structures with the pupils being exposed to the changes in the weather and sit in class with livestock. Both trained teachers and national service personnel posted to the schools were really struggling with the state of their schools. There was also inadequate school infrastructure as most of the children were sharing tables and chairs, some even had to sit on stones. Text books and other teaching materials were poorly stored.

Moving from analog to digital to register births:

To modernise and improve the birth registration process in Ghana, UNICEF, Tigo and the Birth and Death Registry worked closely to automate birth registration for all new births in some selected communities for the pilot project. A pre-pilot was initially carried out in 11 communities and four hospitals within the Greater Accra region in 2015.  During the four-month pre-pilot project, nearly 8,000 new births were registered – more than 400 registered births than the same period a year earlier. Following the success of the pre-pilot, UNICEF, Tigo and Birth and Death Registry agreed to scale up the initiative, covering 300 additional communities in eight out of 10 the regions in Ghana.  At the end of the pilot, it is expected that over 670,800 new births will be registered on the new system by the end of May 2017, increasing the national registration rate to at least 70 percent. It is exciting to see how Tigo has incorporates the Sustainable Development Goals into its core business, and there is no doubt that these social investment initiatives undertaken by the company is yielding results to improve the quality of life of Ghanaians and contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.