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This year’s award paid honour to those driving digital inclusion and closing the connectivity usage gap

27 February 2023, Barcelona: The GSMA is thrilled to announce that this year’s GSMA Chairman’s Award will be taken home by four joint recipients, each of whom have gone above and beyond in their efforts to drive digital inclusion and bridge the connectivity usage gap.

The winners – Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU); Republic of Rwanda Minister Paula Ingabire; Mapula Bodibe, CEO of MTN Rwanda and Diane Karusis, CEO of the Bank of Kigali – were announced last night during a special ceremony to kick-off this year’s MWC Barcelona.

The GSMA Chairman’s Award annually recognises the outstanding achievements of individuals or organisations from across the mobile industry. Established in 1996, the award celebrates those who are responsible for the technology advancements that are shaping the future of mobile communications worldwide. This year’s award recognisesthe importance of collaboration between organisations, governments and the industry in driving digital inclusion and ensuring we can close the broadband usage gap.

“It’s time to make a more concerted effort to bring connectivity to the billions of people who are not yet able to use broadband or maximise digital services worldwide. Bridging these gaps will not only boost the economy, but have been proven to improve social mobility and, ultimately, transform lives,” said José María Álvarez-Pallete López, Chairman of the GSMA. “Each of the winners of the 2023 GSMA Chairman’s Award were chosen for their amazing work in this area, leading the way in closing the digital divide and broadband usage gap. They truly embody the power of what can be done when organisations and governments alike come together, and their work will hopefully inspire other industry stakeholders to follow suit.”

Doreen Bogdan-Martin was given the award for creating Partner2Connect (P2C). P2C is a global leadership platform bringing together stakeholders from across the digital ecosystem to facilitate partnerships and make use of resources aimed at expanding digital inclusion.

P2C was launched in co-operation with the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology in September 2021. It has already driven more than 500 pledges from governments, industry and international organisations across 111 countries, representing an estimated combined financial value of over USD 28 billion. The initiatives created through P2C had an immediate impact on people’s adoption of digital technologies, fostering digital ecosystems and incentivising investment in digital transformation.

Minister Paula Ingabire also earned the award for her role in the P2C commitments made on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Rwanda.

Minister Ingabire’s was the driving force behind the commitments announced by the Government of the Republic of Rwanda to close the broadband usage gap, as part of its P2C pledges. Thanks to her input, Rwanda committed to increase digital access and inclusion by investing in key digital enablers, focusing on under-served areas and groups. This included a promise to provide a smartphone to an additional one million disadvantaged households by 2030, support for national smart device financing programs and the launch of a local connectivity access scheme targeting unconnected government offices, schools, hospitals, and marketplaces.

Mapula Bodibe (CEO of MTN Rwanda) and Diane Karusis (CEO of the Bank of Kigali), our final two winners, were honoured for their commitment to connecting the unconnected and to increasing access to digital financial services through device financing.

Under the leadership of Ms Bodibe and Ms Karusis, MTN Rwanda and the Bank of Kigali partnered to launch Macye Macye’, a device financing program funded by the Bank of Kigali that will allow MTN Rwanda customers to purchase smartphones and tablets on credit from any MTN retail distribution points.

The program represents part of the #ConnectRwanda Initiative, which MTN Rwanda launched in collaboration with the Rwandan Ministry of ICT. The initiative was created to change the fact that approximately 75% of the population in Rwanda does not own a smartphone. To date, 26,599 devices have been given to beneficiaries, who also receive MTN SIM cards with 1 free GB of data per month for the first three months as well as basic digital skills training through MTN’s Digital Ambassadors program.

The Chairman’s Award forms part of the Global Mobile Awards (GLOMO), which are celebrated each year at MWC Barcelona. This year’s full ceremony will take place on Tuesday 28th February from 6-7pm (CET) on the Industry City Stage.

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About GSMA
The GSMA is a global organisation unifying the mobile ecosystem to discover, develop and deliver innovation foundational to positive business environments and societal change. Our vision is to unlock the full power of connectivity so that people, industry, and society thrive. Representing mobile operators and organisations across the mobile ecosystem and adjacent industries, the GSMA delivers for its members across three broad pillars: Connectivity for Good, Industry Services and Solutions, and Outreach. This activity includes advancing policy, tackling today’s biggest societal challenges, underpinning the technology and interoperability that make mobile work, and providing the world’s largest platform to convene the mobile ecosystem at the MWC and M360 series of events.

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