During a panel at the Mobile World Congress, Dr. Ahmed Bin Ali, Senior VP – Corporate Communications of the Etisalat Group, the leading telecoms operator in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, led a discussion on the transformational role of telecommunications in emerging markets.
Bin Ali’s presentation was built around multiple case-studies that demonstrated how the Etisalat Group and its networks are utilized as an agent of socio-economic change.
Given the Group’s long and deep expertise in telecommunications across emerging and developed markets, Etisalat is keenly aware of the power that telecommunications can have to be a force for change for individuals and societies alike.
His first example came from Etisalat’s home country. The UAE’s vision for Smart Government,with the stated goal of offering all Government services to citizens and residents over mobile phones within just two years— is a bold vision that calls for close cooperation between Government departments and technology providers, including telecommunication companies, to turn the vision into reality.
Another example is the pioneering service Etisalat offers in Africa, branded ‘Weena’, which constitutes a set of mobile solutions specifically aimed at empowerment of women.
Commenting on the initiative, Isabel Al Hajiri, Vice President, Africa Region- Etisalat Group, said: “Women often lack opportunities and are vulnerable in many societies due to various economic, cultural along other issues. The ‘Weena’ initiative is specifically designed around the needs of women in rural areas, and enables them to access resources and information required for their own success. Beginning with microloans to start businesses, the system can also offer ‘mobile money’ services through ‘Weena Agents’. This is now transforming into a much larger initiative, and is being widely adopted by women especially for the independence that it brings”.
In Niger, Afghanistan and Pakistan many people have faced uncertainty when traditional systems such as banking shut down. Etisalat’s Electronic Social Cash initiative filled the need by providing efficient, secure and control distribution of funds directly to user’s “Mobile Wallets” and the prepaid card accounts held by refugees and displaced communities. Participating outlets are able to accept payment from the “Mobile Wallet” or off the prepaid card, which allows greater self-sufficiency for the refugees and, ultimately, aids them on the path to rehabilitation. The simple, intuitive system also ensures that language is not a barrier between buyer and seller, and because prices are printed on the item along with the barcode, the seller is bound by a fixed-price.
In education, Etisalat’s technology is providing advanced and innovative ways to deliver lessons and teaching aids. The Group is at the forefront of providing solutions across multiple media, geographies, and subjects. Etisalat’s Ayaadi programme supports augmented reality-based interactive learning, eBooks and online training in regional languages, financial education for children, and digital connectivity between school, student, and teacher to offer access to courses and content across devices.
In the UAE, Etisalat has also worked with building management and real estate firms to evaluate, monitor, and reduce the carbon footprint of buildings and campuses with Emirates Energy Star (EES). In just 13 months since its launch, the programme has reduced carbon emissions by more than 35,000 tonnes – the equivalent of planting more than 7500 trees.
A monitoring panel in each building transmits energy usage data across heating, ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC), to a central command centre, where the data is analysed and problem areas identified.
The Etisalat Group is committed to provide innovative initiatives that achieve socio-economic progress across its operating markets, as well as providing a telecommunication network that plays a significant role in developing the communities in which they are operating.