Vodacom Congo funds digital centre at Kinshasa University

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, DRC

A digital centre worth US$83 000 and funded by Vodacom Congo has been inaugurated at the Université de Kinshasa (UNIKIN) by the company MD and the US Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The centre, which comprises 100 computers connected to the internet, 100 chairs and 100 tables, will help UNIKIN students and researchers do their work in a comfortable and technology-charged environment.

State-funded UNIKIN was established as Université Lovanium in 1954 by the Belgian colonial masters. 

But it has lapsed into one of Africa's most poorly-equipped institutions of higher learning, lacking everything from landline phones, ultra-modern libraries, auditoriums and conference halls, computer centres, tap water, adequate electricity supply and sanitation, among others.

The mobile operator, mindful of the ICT-less situation the university was finding itself in, has decided to come to its rescue in terms of its ‘Digital Solidarity’ programme.

The event was graced by James Swan, the US ambassador to the DRC, and the project has been made possible with the support of the US Embassy in Kinshasa.

Murielle Lorilloux, Vodacom Congo MD, said: “We remain convinced that access to new information technologies and communication is a powerful means of development."

She said her company funded the ICT centre to enable Congolese students and researchers to face various challenges of contemporary scientific and professional world, and therefore become competitive.  

“We believe that access to the internet should not be a privilege,” she added.

Approached for comment, many UNIKIN students said they were humbled by Vodacom’s gesture.

“I think this is more than a humanitarian gesture. We are studying here like refugees who lack basic needs to help them survive,” Jean-Bosco Tshimanga told Biztechafrica in the capital Kinshasa.

“We badly needed a digital centre of such magnitude, and we hope and pray that more companies will come along to help us have more ICT centres of this nature,” Rose Mansanga said.


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