Facebook announces winners of 2021 Community Accelerator Program in Africa

Facebook announced the winners of the 2021 Facebook Community Accelerator Program, highlighting the 13 Facebook community leaders from Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya who will receive training, mentorship and up to $50,000 USD in funds to invest in an initiative that extends their community’s positive impact. The 13 winners emerged out of over 13,000 applicants who entered the competition.

The Community Accelerator is part of Facebook’s Community Leadership Program, a program to help leaders harness the power of their community to turn impactful ideas into action. Leaders will learn how to harness the power of their community to turn impactful ideas into action. This year’s cohort features a diverse spectrum of communities engaged in interesting social impact activities ranging from combating child sexual abuse to helping moms and sharing stories of ordinary and extraordinary Nigerians from around the world.

“We are excited to announce the 13 Facebook community leaders in Africa who have been helping to resolve social challenges, empowering their audiences with knowledge while connecting with others that share their interests or passion for a cause.” Kiran Yoliswa, Partner Management Lead, Middle East and Africa Community Partnerships at Facebook said . “At Facebook, we are committed to helping people realise their full potential through initiatives like this. We want these community leaders to use the Facebook platform to drive change and provide support and encouragement for thousands of people. We are impressed with the outcome of this year’s Community Accelerator and we look forward to helping our 2021 community Accelerator winners amplify their influence for greater work.”

Community leaders from across Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa as part of the Facebook Community Accelerator include:

Achimugu Elizabeth, Protect The Child Foundation from Nigeria: Protect The Child Foundation is committed to protecting and defending the innocence of children against all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation. Our vision is to have a world that is safe for children to live in. A world free from child sexual abuse and all forms of abuse.

Godwin Juliet, Naija Graphic Designers from Nigeria: Established in 2008, this creative community connects the graphic design industry in Nigeria and beyond with the aim of supporting, up-skilling and offering opportunities for graphic designers to raise industry standards. The community connects employers with freelancers, as well as supporting women creatives.

Izevbokun Osamakue, Mothers, Kids And More from Nigeria: Impactful community empowering Nigerian and African women (and their children) to help each other to progress in their personal and professional lives. The community’s aim is to extract and recognise the potential within and without, and empower women to reach out to other women when they need help. Their long-term mission is to have the opportunity to have a centre where women can come in and get empowered.

Michael Louisa, Natural Hair Babes from Nigeria: Large community focused on natural hair, sisterhood and cultural and economic empowerment for Nigerian women and girls. They created an entrepreneurial sales network in November 2020 when we launched our flagship product, a natural hair herb which is very effective in the maintenance of natural hair, so far, 160 women have been empowered as distributors.

Mwaniki Sam, Teachers’ Notice Board Kenya from Kenya: This group is geared towards national cohesion and integration by bringing together teachers, trainees and tutors from all Teacher Training Colleges in Kenya to build relationships, share job vacancies and promote businesses.

Nworah Martin, Tales of Nigerians from Nigeria:  Tales of Nigerians is an emotional support and mental wellness community where members have a safe space to share their real life experiences. Through community events, trainings’ and on-ground outreach, we have directly impacted around 20,000 members. Our positive impact for the long-term is to continue equipping our growing members with the right tools to grow their emotional intelligence, mental wellness and synergy with other members.

Ogudoro Peter, Nigerian Teachers from Nigeria:  This community for Nigerian teachers has the big ambition of changing the country’s education system one teacher at a time. Community is made up primarily of teachers who are not receiving good training services from their employers for the very important jobs they do. The  community is focused on helping them to acquire the skills they need to make Nigeria’s education system globally competitive.

Olisa Enoch, Prepare for JAMB UTME from Nigeria: Prepare for JAMB UTME helps students prepare for Nigeria’s university admission exam with learning resources and news. Their long-term mission is to have all the learning resources (exam syllabus, quizzes, study notes, videos, question and answer forum) all in one place, which members should be able to access freely or through a subscription service.

Philip Udeochu, Portfolio 9 (Community) from Nigeria: is a Digital Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Platform (DEEP) with a mandate to bring entrepreneurship and vocational education to people at the bottom of the pyramid in Africa using social media. P9’s mission is to make entrepreneurship accessible by ‘simplifying’ and ‘innovatively’ delivering it to everyone’s doorstep through collective and interactive learning and support, using social media systems and tools. P9 has supported the learning needs of a growing community of over 500k members (currently).

Ramuada Tshililo, South African Arts & Culture Youth Forum from South Africa: SAACYF is a community that trains and empowers underprivileged artists from township and rural areas in South Africa through partnership with other organisations, businesses and governments. Their aim is to make Arts, Culture & Heritage opportunities accessible to poor disadvantaged artists through job creation.

Splinters Lucretia, The Official Ocean View/Slangkop Group from South Africa: Ocean View (originally named Slangkop) was established in 1968 by the apartheid government as a township for forcibly removed coloured people. The community is historically disadvantaged, poverty-stricken and affected by a wide range of social ills. The FB group fosters safety and security, as well as delivering education, hospital care, feeding and community upliftment programmes to empower the local population.

Urhefe Ofejiro, Naija Nurses Forum from Nigeria: Established in 2012, this is a community for nurses across Nigeria who collaborate in providing quality and accessible healthcare services to individuals, whilst supporting each other and sharing best practices in their profession.

Wala Amakove, Wanderlust Diaries Ltd from Kenya: brings together a community of travellers to share stories. Founded during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, this mega community of African travellers promotes eco-tourism in Kenya and other African countries as a driver for community development.

To develop their community, all of the selected leaders spent five months learning from experts, coaches, and a customized curriculum. They learned community identity foundations, leading action-oriented programmes and sustainability. They also had early access to new Facebook products aimed at helping communities better manage and activate their members.

What participants will do?

Strengthen their community: Learn from experts, coaches and a customized curriculum so their community can work better together.

Plan your initiatives: Identify important initiatives that will create a positive impact on the broader world and develop a plan to mobilize their community around their goals.

Execute: Collaborate on their initiatives with top advocates and leaders in the community space and utilize new products aimed at helping them manage and activate their members.

www.facebook.com

MTN to launch OpenRAN in Africa

MTN Group is leveraging our expansive footprint across Africa to test and ultimately deploy OpenRAN – an innovative  technology that will enable us to launch new services more quickly, cost-effectively and seamlessly, supporting our strategy, Ambition 2025: Leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress.

We plan to modernise our radio access networks using OpenRAN. This is in line with one of five vital enablers of our strategy: to build technology platforms that are second to none, thereby allowing for the rapid expansion of 4G and 5G population coverage across our markets.

With up-to-date technology, we can expect a reduction in our power consumption and associated carbon emissions. This, in turn, supports our plans to decarbonise our network and achieve net zero emissions by 2040, our Project Zero.

OpenRAN allows for the disaggregation of hardware and software elements of a network, enabling telcos to build a network using components with the same specifications and scale from a diverse base of vendors. A disruptive trend, it is gaining popularity as the industry seeks to promote an open and interoperable ecosystem between various vendors.

We at MTN aim to roll this out by the end of 2021 in collaboration with our partners Altiostar, Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, TechMahindra and Voyage.

As an early adopter, MTN first rolled out open-source technology in 2019 to improve rural coverage. This was in line with our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. To date, we have deployed over 1 100 commercial sites in more than 11 countries and were among the pioneers of open-source adoption, facilitating cost-effective deployment in unconnected areas.

For all mobile network operators, radio access network (RAN) makes up the bulk of capital and operating costs. By applying OpenRAN, MTN targets further innovation and cost efficiencies.

“At MTN we are alive to the potential of open interfaces. There is a lot of value that dominant players bring to the business, but telecommunications today is as much about the stability of the network as it is about new services,” says MTN Group Chief Technology and Information Officer Charles Molapisi. “Customers measure us against the speed with which we can deploy the latest technology and we are committed to finding faster and better ways to do that.”

The many benefits of OpenRAN include diversifying the vendor landscape, disrupting the cost flow, and removing dependencies on proprietary suppliers. It also promises cost savings and flexibility as it allows operators to use generic hardware and open interfaces. It enables a so-called ‘Lego architecture’ where many different vendors supply the components and software products that together make the end-to-end radio network work. By modernising the network, we reduce our power consumption and emissions in support of our Project Zero. 

“While OpenRAN brings a new architecture to mobile networks and more suppliers to deal with, it gives telcos much-needed flexibility,” says Amith Maharaj, MTN Group Executive: Network Planning and Design. “This means that MTN can now look at building a network that can meet cost and capacity requirements of specific markets, or even rapidly deploy 5G and/or 4G seamlessly with existing legacy services. This is a real game-changer for mobile advancement in emerging markets.”   

While the technology is still in its early days and widespread adoption is likely years away, MTN has already collaborated with a number of global players to reap the benefits and trigger innovation. In efforts to drive OpenRAN standardisation, we are also participating in Facebook’s Telecom Infra Project.

“Early adoption gives us the ability to improve and deploy appropriate network architecture underpinned by technology, both tried and tested, and disruptive, to ensure we continue to deliver an exceptional experience, and ultimately play our part in harnessing the power of technology to lead digital solutions for Africa’s progress,” concludes Molapisi. 

www.mtn.com

Facebook and leading Health Organizations form alliance for advancing health online

Facebook is partnering with leaders from the technology, healthcare, global development and academic sectors to establish the Alliance for Advancing Health Online. This new initiative aims to advance public understanding of how social media and behavioral sciences can be leveraged to improve the health of communities around the world. 

The partners of the Alliance include the Bay Area Global Health Alliance, the CDC Foundation, Facebook, the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, Merck, Sabin Vaccine Institute, the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the World Bank and the World Health Organization. Merck and Facebook are each committing $20 million to this multi-year initiative, which will initially focus on addressing vaccine hesitancy and vaccine equity among underserved communities. 

“Social media is a powerful, constantly evolving tool that is shaping opinions and behaviors across the globe,” said Heidi Larson, PhD, head of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “The Alliance will help us build a deeper understanding of the dynamics of health communication online and how the global community can use social media to improve health.”

The Alliance has established the Vaccine Confidence Fund, an independent fund to support research on how social media and online platforms can best support confidence in and access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world, as well as routine immunizations impacted by the pandemic. The goal of this initial research is to produce timely, practical applications, focused on reaching historically underserved communities and those communities particularly at risk in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Fund will provide grants to researchers and organizations that are exploring how best to use behavioral science, social media and digital platforms to build confidence in and access to vaccines. Global Impact, which will manage this fund on behalf of the Alliance, has issued a request for proposals. Researchers who would like to participate in this effort can apply here

All of the findings generated through this research will be shared quickly, broadly and publicly. To this end, Facebook is awarding grants to the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Bay Area Global Health Alliance who will facilitate a series of community discussions over the coming months. 

Facebook together with partners, have seen promising results from their health work over the past few years. This highlights the Alliance’s opportunity to better understand what’s working, so it can be replicated and scaled.

“The Alliance for Advancing Health Online and the new Vaccine Confidence Fund are important steps forward in leveraging social media for health impact at scale. A recent collaboration between WHO and Facebook demonstrated what this can achieve. WHO’s Science Behind Vaccines campaign ran globally, resonating most among Spanish and Chinese speaking audiences who expressed an increased willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine by 2.8 and 2.9 percentage points, respectively, across more than 50 million people.” – Andy Pattison, Team Lead, Digital Channels, WHO.

At the same time, we recognize that more research and understanding is needed to replicate and scale the approaches that work, and to learn from those that do not. By bringing together public and private sector partners, we hope the Alliance will accelerate our collective ability to have a lasting positive impact on health behavior through leveraging the unique scale and personalization of digital channels.

www.about.fb.com