Nokia and Grameen Foundation USA Join Forces to Bring Affordable Telecommunications to Rural Village

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Nokia and Grameen Foundation USA today announced a collaboration to bring affordable, accessible telecommunications to rural villages in Africa through microfinance. This collaboration builds on GFUSA’s global Village Phone initiative that helps people living in rural areas start self-sustaining businesses while providing affordable telecommunications to their communities.

Access to affordable and reliable telecommunications services is a lifeline for rural communities and a critical part of overall development. Although the costs of mobile phones and services have fallen significantly, the initial investment needed to get connected remains one of the most significant hurdles to expanding communication services in these areas. By providing the necessary cash, microfinance has proven to be a powerful tool in overcoming this barrier. With tiny loans, financial services and mobile technology, Village Phone provides affordable access in a sustainable manner.

The collaboration between Nokia and GFUSA is designed to accelerate efforts to make universal access, particularly in rural areas of Africa a reality. As part of this effort, Nokia and GFUSA have jointly developed a solution based on Nokia’s most affordable phones and an external antenna to serve rural communities in Uganda and Rwanda, the two countries where GFUSA’s Village Phone currently operates.

“Last September, the important milestone of two billion mobile subscriptions was achieved. Rural connectivity will play a major role in reaching the next billion subscribers and ultimately connecting half the world. Nokia is proud to collaborate with GFUSA on this significant initiative,” said Antonio Torres, Director of Business Development & Industry Marketing for Nokia’s Entry Business Unit.

“By leveraging microfinance, a proven poverty reduction strategy, and technology, GFUSA’s Village Phone is playing an important role in alleviating poverty and connecting rural communities,” said David Keogh, Deputy Director of GFUSA’s Grameen Technology Center. GFUSA’s Village Phone replicates the Village Phone program that was pioneered in Bangladesh by Grameen Bank. It was launched in Uganda in 2002 and recently piloted in Rwanda.

As a part of the cooperation, Nokia and GFUSA will conduct a study to further examine the broader impact of the mobile telecommunications on socio-economic development and individual business integration as well as to evaluate microfinance as a sustainable tool to make telecommunications access more affordable.

GFUSA’s Village Phone program will be showcased at the Nokia stand #2307 in ICT 4 all Exhibition at the Kram Palexpo in Tunis, Tunisia during November 15-19.-05

Source: Yahoo! Finance (link opens in a new window)