Making a phone call is something that many people take for granted. Yet millions in rural villages around the world simply do not have easy or affordable access to a telephone.
The Village Phone concept was developed precisely to help extend access to telecommunications beyond the urban areas.
Started by GrameenPhone in Bangladesh – a client of IFC, today there are approximately 280,000 Village Phones in 55,000 villages around Bangladesh. To emulate the success of Village Phone in Bangladesh, IFC collaborated with the Grameen Foundation and other partners to create a Village Phone Replication Manual – essentially a ‘how-to’ resource for setting up a Village Phone project.
IFC is now working with MTN (also an IFC client) and other partners to replicate the Village Phone concept in several African countries, starting with Nigeria.
Beyond providing much needed communication access, the Village Phone model goes a long way to empower the women operators, spur economic activities and promote entrepreneurialism. IFC is documenting lessons learnt from Nigeria and other Village Phone projects, and will support replication initiatives in other African countries.
To date, IFC has approved over US$220 million in financing to support MTN operations in Nigeria, Ghana and Afghanistan.