Telcos were always looking to adapt new services and technologies to offer educational platforms to their audience, but before the virus outbreak, none of them succeeded.
When the pandemic hit, focus on the education sector increased significantly and online tools became the most important way to ensure the continuity of education. In addition, education ministries started to look for ways to help teachers and students adapt to remote learning platforms and partnered with telcos in order to increase access to digital resources while schools remain closed.
We present a few ways that telco-government collaborations have helped communities during COVID-19.
Ministries of education collaborated with telcos to offer zero-rating on specific websites for online services and for access to education. The initiative boosts digital inclusion and allows everyone the possibility to learn, especially with the economic downturn which impacted many homes and families. The strategy has been adopted in the South Africa market where local telecom players including MTN and Cell-C have applied zero-rating to an online math education program called OLICO.
2- Distributing smart devices as a lending service
Telcos initiated action to distribute smartphone devices for students whereby the cost of the device is paid back on a monthly payment plan. In Egypt, Etisalat offered 0% interest for a 12-month purchasing plan for smart devices (handsets and tablets) from Etisalat stores. This offer has been extended to non-Etisalat customers as well in order to support the entire community.
3- SMS campaigns
Telco’s have been working with ministries to provide free awareness information to their subscribers using the SMS channel. This initiative has been adopted by MTN Nigeria to address the impact of COVID-19. Y’ello HOPE Package – one of several new initiatives to support MTN customers – further amplifies government efforts by utilizing more channels to deliver health and safety information. The package also includes 300 Free SMS, valid for four weeks.