Juba — At a mobile transmission station, George Nassif, reminisced about how in generations past the phone belonged only to the military, pointed to cables sticking out of silver boxes and told a impassioned student learners to lurch onto the wireless revolution.
Third Row (L-R) chief information officer George Nassif and head corporate affairs Dhlomo lead students to MTN base station at Nyakuron June 19, 2014 (Photo: J. Perpetual)
"To break this monopoly, a Swedish engineer started writing down something: he was thinking of something called the microfilm processor," said the MTN chief information officer.
"It is here," Nassif added as he pointed to the sheath of wires.
The information awareness campaign is a sub-theme of the 21 Days of Y'ello Care, a corporate social responsibility staff volunteerism initiative of the MTN Group that started with health education last week.
Held every June 1st to 21st, staffs volunteer in the communities, now 22 countries, in which the company operates. Staffs contribute money. The group tops up the money. Winning teams win cash grants to implement more social responsibility projects in their respective countries.
"Everything today is about wireless," said Khumbulani Dhlomo, the company head of corporate affairs.
"We want them to get involved at an early age so that many can become engineers. The long-term goal is to build partnerships between the schools and us so that we can raise the level of education", he added.
The theme of Y'ello Care for 2014, "Investing in Education For All', the same as that of 2012 and 2013, is meant to give MTN the opportunity to expand and consolidate the efforts to positively impact the educational sector and move them closer to targets set under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
At the transmission centre, opened this year to support a $76 million expansion that will see 161 new base stations, students asked basic questions, such as how a phone call reaches an end user, how towers network, and whether towers are a health threat to people, yet many left so impressed as to think of changing career goals.
Paisayu Denis, 19, a student at Juba Day, came here determined to become a diplomat. "I think I now want to become a telecom engineer," said Paisayu.
"It's important for students to know how phone[calls] are connected," said James Kugilo, a teacher at Juba Day secondary school.
"Many of them now say they want to become engineers and marketers," he added.