Telecommunications giant, Cellcom, formally launched its new “Empowering Liberia” initiative at a well-attended event held at the Monrovia City Hall on Thursday, April 10. Graced by guest of honor Vice President H.E. Joseph N. Boakai, the event was attended by several hundred dignitaries and guests including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Post and Telecom, and the Chairpersons of the House and Senate committees on telecommunications.
Delivering the keynote address at the event, Cellcom CEO, Mr. John Vasikaran, said that with the launch of Empowering Liberia, Cellcom had taken yet another step in fulfilling its continuing commitment to provide quality and affordable telecommunications access to all Liberians. Mr. Vasikaran announced that through the new initiative, thousands of Liberians, especially Liberia’s majority youth population, across the country would now be able to easily access the world’s digital information library, which would help all sectors of society and could be a catalyst for lowering Liberia’s high illiteracy rate and ensuring rapid economic growth.
The Empowering Liberia Initiative is modeled after successful programs in parts of the world where governments have heavily subsidized technology especially computers and tablets to give a vast majority of their population access to computer technology. Research in these countries have shown that populations with access experience rapid acceleration of the strengthening of education and increase in average household incomes.
At the climax of his speech, Mr. Vasikaran unveiled the new device which will be the heart of the Empowering Liberia Initiative. He announced: “I am pleased to present to you the UV-231 7 inch tablet PC. We have custom built this tab specifically to meet the needs of Liberians and at the heavily subsidized rate of $129, we are the first company to provide an affordable device which can act as a computer and will ensure that Liberians have easy access to transformative technology.” Mr. Vasikaran explained the significance of the name UV-231 that “U” stood for Ultra or ultimate, “V” represented victory, and 231 was in honor of the Liberian country code.
Mr. Vasikaran informed the audience that the new device had been built using the highest standards. He explained that the tab has been tested for durability, incorporated the latest android framework, is pre-loaded with programs including email, facebook, whatsapp and more. “one very exciting thing is that this is not only a high end tablet, but it is also a dual SIM phone,” Vasikaran pointed out. So for an affordable price $129, are putting a fully loaded tablet which also is a dual SIM phone in the hands of Liberians.” He continued: “we are humbled and honored to be able to present this phone to the people of Liberia, especially the young people who have the power to transform this great nation.”
In addition to those features, the tablet acts as a mini computer, has a dual core processor with the latest android technology, has a special USB connecter to allow memory sticks and other devices to be connected, has a front and back camera, comes with a custom built genuine leather carrying case, and most importantly, this android tab is also a dual sim phone.
At the end of his speech, Mr. Vasikaran recognized Mr. Avishai Marziano (Cellcom’s group CEO) and Mr. AviZaidenberg (Cellcom’s Chairman of the Board) who he said had been instrumental in making the vision of the Empowering Liberia program to come to fruition.
For his part, the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia H.E. Joseph Boakai lauded Cellcom for the Empowering Liberia Initiative. He admonished other companies to follow the example of Cellcom. He said: “we are encouraging other entities to follow Cellcom, not just in developing telecommunications systems, but also because of their work to improve the lives of our people. I am happy that Cellcom has chosen to empower our young people.