BT and SOS Children’s Villages bring 20 African communities on line

Broadband internet delivered to communities across Africa, benefiting 700,000 

BT today announces its ‘Connecting Africa’ project, which will bring broadband internet access to communities across Africa. 

BT is working with SOS Children’s Villages, an international charity that focuses on children at risk, to connect twenty of the charity’s sites in twelve African countries via its global satellite network. BT and SOS Children’s Villages estimate that the project could directly and indirectly benefit approximately 700,000 people. 

The first two SOS Children’s Villages in The Gambia have already been brought online and the remaining Children’s Villages are scheduled to be connected by October 2013. 

BT designs and builds the network infrastructure using underutilised or decommissioned BT equipment in each country. At the same time, BT engineers train the charity’s local IT support teams to maintain and operate the infrastructure, ensuring the project is sustainable in the long term. BT will provide connectivity for the Children’s Villages for three years via its global satellite network, run from its operational centre in Madley in the UK. 

The Connecting Africa project will bring numerous benefits to the children living in the Children’s Villages, enabling them to get online and helping with their education through e-learning courses and mentoring programmes developed by the charity. It will also bring significant benefits to SOS Children’s Villages as an organisation, helping the charity run its operations more efficiently and better co-ordinate the facilities it operates in the communities, which include schools, medical centres and community programmes. 

Meryl Davies from SOS Children’s Villages said: “We see the real difference that IT and connectivity make to our children’s lives, opening their eyes to a whole new world of information, and wonderful education opportunities. The other significant value of this partnership is the way that BT is helping us as an organisation. BT has the vision to understand that with improved systems and structures, we will be better able to bring long term value to incredibly vulnerable children and families.” 

Speaking at the official launch of the programme during the World Economic Forum on Africa conference in Cape Town, Kevin Taylor, President BT Asia, Middle East and Africa, said: “We believe that communication is an incredibly powerful tool and can transform the lives of many people. We’ve seen the real impact that broadband internet can have through our projects around the world. This latest initiative builds on our know-how and on our long standing commitments to communities in Africa and elsewhere where through technology we help children and whole communities reach for a better future. This project is enthusiastically supported by 

BT employees around the world, who will engage through volunteering and fund raising activities.” 

Connecting Africa will directly benefit at least 5,000 people in each community, with many more benefiting indirectly. By developing the technology and skills within the Villages, and by running adult education programmes in the wider community, the project will help extend the benefits of internet access to the children, their families and wider communities. 

The project will help boost the charity’s fundraising work by allowing photos and videos to be shared with the people who have chosen to sponsor children in the Children’s Villages. It will also be instrumental in raising awareness for emergency relief work, such as the charity’s current relief organised around the crisis in Mali, to help secure support from the international community of donors. 

BT will mobilise its global workforce and skills base to support this project through a range of volunteering activities. This will build on the BT’s extensive and long term support of the charity’s work in Germany, where 

BT employees have volunteered 136 days during 2012 in helping young adults develop computer skills. 

The Connecting Africa project is part of BT’s Better Future programme, which is a commitment to use the power of communications to improve lives and ways of doing business. It is one of a number of projects that 

BT is running around the world to help people get online and develop the skills and confidence to use the internet. 
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Connecting Africa video

Notes to editors 
Other projects that BT runs around the world to help people get online and develop the skills and confidence to use the internet include: 
• In Brazil, BT works with charity Liga Solidária to provide computer workshops for children aged between six and 15 living in the poorest areas of São Paulo. 
• In India, BT launched KITES, the Katha Information Technology E-commerce School, to provide children in Delhi’s poorest communities with high-quality education and access to IT and computer skills. 
• In the UK, BT runs a regional Get IT Together programme, working in some of the most deprived areas of the country to understand the specific needs of the communities and give as many local people as possible the confidence to take their first steps online. 

About BT’s Better Future programme 
Better Future is BT’s commitment to use the power of communications to improve lives and ways of doing business – without it costing the earth. BT has set itself three goals to achieve by 2020 which will help it to grow sustainably, especially in new emerging markets. The goals focus on connecting people digitally (‘Connected Society’), using our skills and technology to help society support good causes (‘Improving Lives’), and ensuring BT makes a net positive contribution to the environment (‘Net Good’). They are rooted in what BT does best – bringing together our networks and technology with the expertise of our people to make a better world. Being a responsible and sustainable business leader is one of BT’s six strategic priorities for growth. For further information, visit www.bt.com/betterfuture. 

About SOS Children’s Villages 
SOS Children’s Villages is a global charity which provides orphans and vulnerable children with a stable and positive family life. The charity protects and improves the lives of children in 125 countries, working with communities to keep fragmenting families together, and where this is not possible, building new families for children at risk. 
Working together with deprived communities, SOS Children’s Villages identifies needs and provides practical and emotional tools for parents and caregivers to prevent family breakdown. When children lose their families and have nothing and no one, the charity ensures that they can grow up in a safe environment by creating new families. Headed by SOS mothers, families live together in unique SOS Children’s Villages, which are located in the heart of communities. The charity establishes schools and medical centres to ensure that more children have the opportunity of an education and access to quality medical care. Every year, SOS Children’s Villages’ programmes reach over two million people.