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The Millennium Villages Project: 10+ years of poverty reduction

Ericsson was one of the pioneers of what is today referred to as “ICT for development” – with some of our main efforts dating back to the mid-2000s. Back when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set in 2000, broadband was still in its infancy, with just 750 million mobile subscriptions worldwide. Since that time, we have worked continuously to make the benefits of broadband as a tool for sustainable development more widely known. There are now approximately 7.8 billion mobile subscriptions globally, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, and more than 95 percent of the world’s population will be covered by MBB networks by 2023.

One project that demonstrates the impact that ICT can have on development is the Millennium Villages Project (MVP), which started as a joint project of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the United Nations Development Programme and Millennium Promise in the early 2000s. The MVP aimed to prove that it is possible to reduce extreme poverty in rural Africa through community-led development at the village level. Ericsson became involved in the MVP in 2007, and according to Sonia Sachs, who led the healthcare work in the MVP, “the concept-driven partnership with Ericsson to incorporate ICT into the MVP and provide connectivity to all of the villages was a game changer”.

Check out this video to learn more about the Millennium Villages Project:

The Millennium Villages Project has had a deep impact on rural communities in Africa. One of the key lessons learned is that broader mobile broadband coverage serves as a major accelerator. Policymakers today have the opportunity to facilitate even greater positive change and economic development in rural Africa by leveraging low-band spectrum to bring the internet to all.

Written by Shiletsi Makhofane

Shiletsi Makhofane is Head of Government and Industry Relations for Ericsson in Africa. He has more than 20 years of experience in the African telecommunications industry garnered through a variety of roles in a number of leading organisations. He started career in network engineering and held various roles in areas such as organization development, business processes, marketing, consulting and strategy.

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