With the Launch of the Digitruck Salone Project… Africell Supports Empowerment of 330 Women & Girls in Digital Skills

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By Foday Moriba Conteh

Africell, one of Sierra Leone’s leading telecommunication companies, has thrown its weight behind the Digitruck Salone Project. The initiative which is implemented by Media Matters for Women, with support from Close the Gap through Internet Society Foundation, aims to empower 300 female students and 30 female entrepreneurs in rural Sierra Leone by providing them with access to digital skills training.

The project involves the conversion of a 40-foot container into a mobile digital classroom, specifically designed to bridge the technological gap for women and girls in their respective communities. The official launch took place on Wednesday, May 8th, 2023, at the Amie Academy School in Waterloo, Western Area Rural District.

Addressing the esteemed audience, Yeama Thompson-Oguamah, Deputy Board Chair of Media Matters for Women, expressed her profound pleasure and sense of purpose in commemorating this significant milestone.

The Digitruck Salone project, Yeama Thompson-Oguamah emphasized, symbolizes empowerment, innovation and progress. Through cutting-edge technology and solar-powered mobility, Media Matters for Women aims to transform the lives of 300 female students and 30 female entrepreneurs in remote communities across Sierra Leone.

She emphasized that the initiative goes beyond providing access to technology; it’s about inspiring dreams, broadening horizons, and unlocking opportunities for success. The Digitruck serves as a beacon of hope for young girls, offering them interactive learning sessions and practical experiences to ignite their imaginations and empower them to aim high. Similarly, for female entrepreneurs, the Digitruck provides tools and training to enhance their businesses and drive economic empowerment.

Yeama Thompson-Oguamah expressed gratitude to all partners and supporters for their unwavering commitment, highlighting their belief in the project’s potential. She invited everyone to join the journey of empowerment, innovation and progress, emphasizing that their support is crucial to the project’s success.

In conclusion, she urged all to harness the power of technology to create a more inclusive, equitable and prosperous future for all.

Joe Abass Bangura, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Africell Sierra Leone, expressed his pride in being present at the launch and extended congratulations to Media Matters for Women for their remarkable initiative.

The Chief Corporate Affairs Officer emphasized the significance of empowering young people and communities, highlighting the transformative potential inherent in every child. Drawing from his personal background, Joe Abass Bangura shared his journey from humble beginnings to professional success, underscoring the importance of initiatives like Digitruck in shaping futures.

He reiterated Africell’s commitment to partnerships and community development, emphasizing their dedication to supporting initiatives that empower youth and drive economic growth.

Celebrating Media Matters for Women and their partners, Joe Abass Bangura emphasized the pivotal role of digital connectivity and literacy in driving economic change and creating unlimited opportunities. He highlighted past initiatives by Africell, such as coding boot camps and mobile computer labs, aimed at empowering youth across Sierra Leone.

He announced Africell’s ongoing efforts to expand internet access in Sierra Leone and pledged continued support for initiatives like Digitruck. He also congratulated the beneficiaries of the project and encouraged them to embrace the opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Joe Abass Bangura concluded by expressing gratitude to everyone involved in making the project a reality and reiterated Africell’s commitment to future collaborations.

Francisca Mueama, Project Manager for the Close Gap Digital Truck initiative, commended the warm welcome she received in Sierra Leone during her first visit to Sierra Leone, noting the country’s hospitality and commitment.

Reflecting on the journey that began over 10 months ago, Mueama highlighted the goal of Close the Gap, an international social enterprise, to bridge the digital divide by addressing gaps in access, usage, and knowledge management in ICT. She emphasized the significance of the Digitruck Salone Project as the 12th Digitrack in Africa and the first women-led initiative.

Mueama applauded the collaboration with Media Matters Women, Africell, and other partners, recognizing the importance of empowering women in the digital economy to overcome cultural barriers. She underscored the project’s aim to provide basic digital skills to 300 beneficiaries, enabling them to enhance their employability and income generation opportunities.

Through the partnership, Mueama outlined key objectives, including reducing unemployment, empowering women, enhancing knowledge management, and fostering assertiveness among girls. She emphasized the transformative impact of educating women, citing the proverb, “When you educate a woman, you educate a community.”

In conclusion, Mueama expressed gratitude to all involved in the project and reiterated the commitment to working together to achieve transformative outcomes for Sierra Leone and beyond.

Launching the project, Foday Mohamed Sesay, Assistant Director of the Western Area Rural District at the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, described the occasion as a significant step toward advancing digital technology and achieving Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5, which focus on ensuring access to information and technology for children and promoting gender equality, respectively.

He emphasized the Ministry’s commitment to leveraging digital technology as a powerful tool to amplify women’s progress and achieve gender equality objectives outlined in relevant legislation.

Foday Mohamed Sesay highlighted the importance of addressing online abuse and exploitation, particularly concerning issues such as human trafficking and child exploitation, which are prevalent in the digital realm, underscoring the Ministry’s role in creating opportunities for women to access online banking and entrepreneurial ventures, in alignment with gender equality and empowerment laws.

In closing, he reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to supporting initiatives like Digitruck, providing both technological resources and informational support to empower girls and women. He conveyed the Minister’s appreciation for the opportunity and reaffirmed their dedication to addressing barriers to online information access for girls, thereby promoting quality education and closing informational gaps.

The ceremony was climaxed with the official launch of the Digitruck Salone Project followed by a tour of the Digitruck.


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