On July 17th, 2008 Nokia introduced a new mobile internet course to a number of African universities, including Ashesi University College in Ghana.

The Mobile Internet Programme (MIP), an initiative borne out of partnership between Nokia and EPROM (Entrepreneurial Programming and Research on Mobiles), aims to encourage University students to develop mobile phone applications for use in emerging markets such as Africa.

The Mobile Internet Programme will have tremendous impact on internet usage, short message services (SMS) and communication through mobile telephony in Africa. The course also aims to provide employment opportunities and encourage new business ideas among Ghanaian youth, while they invest in the future of technology in Africa.

In May, during the launch of Fon TV, which enables subscribers to watch television on their mobile phones, Joshua Peprah, Director in charge of Regulations and Licensing at the National Communications Authority (NCA), stated that mobile phone penetration in Ghana had reached 36% by the end of 2007 and is estimated to hit 50% by 2010. This highlights the growing importance of mobile technologies.

Nokia has donated 20 mobile devices from its wide range to the Ashesi University College to show its commitment to this progressive program. The mobile phones will be used to set up a laboratory for the course’s practical work.

“Nokia’s vision is a world where everyone can be connected. This project provides an opportunity for Ghanaian youth to connect with mobile technology and play a role in developing relevant and impactful services to help connect more Africans,” said Loren Shuster Vice President Sales Nokia Sub-Saharan Africa. “Nokia is committed to Africa and we see enormous potential in this continent. Our commitment is to make the widest range of products and services available locally, nurture local talent, grow the ecosystem and uplift the communities in which we operate. This project combines all of those elements and we are very excited to support its roll out across Africa.”

The faculty of the Ashesi University welcomed the new course positively and encouraged the students to utilize the resources effectively. Some of the students attending the course have expressed gratitude to Nokia for creating such an entrepreneurial opportunity for them and, ultimately, the community. Joseph Amegatcher, an Ashesi student enrolled in the course stated, “the lectures move at breakneck speed, with new information each day. However, I am having a lot of fun in the class and am glad I have this opportunity!”

With the world rapidly becoming a global village, the students are pleased to be a part of this phenomenon through this programme. The programme will contribute immensely in developing Information Technology and Mobile Services in Ghana and also in educating the citizens on the potential of mobile technology.

Dr. Nathan Amanquah, Head of Ashesi’s Computer Science Department and lecturer for the course explains the importance of this curriculum for Ashesi and its students; “the goal of the course is to equip our students with the skills needed to design mobile web applications, taking into account the context in which mobiles are used.” He believes this technology is especially important in the Ghanaian market. “Mobile phones have quickly spread in Ghana and have opened a huge market for new technology and services. Participants in this course will be able to address the needs of this niche.”

The MIP will be run in 10 African countries, with the Ashesi Univeristy College, Acrra,Ghana being the first to launch the course. Other universities include: Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; University of Nairobi, Kenya; Kigali Institute of Science and technology, Rwanda; University of South Africa, SA; Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique; Lagos State University, Nigeria; Ecole Polytechnic de Thies, Senegal; Makarere University, Uganda and the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The course will also motivate youth in Africa to believe that many of the successful web services developed for the African continent will not come from the West but rather from the collective abilities of the thousands of computer science students graduating each year in Africa.

Nokia and Ashesi University faculty look forward to the MIP becoming part of the school curriculum, offering course credits, and equipping African youth with skills to develop applications for mobile phones essential for improving every day life in Africa.