Marking his first visit to Africa's most populous nation, Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett announced a comprehensive set of digital inclusion projects aimed at improving education, healthcare and economic development for Nigeria's 140 million people.
With the support of the Federal Ministry of Health, Barrett launched a pilot telemedicine project that brings critical pediatric care to a rural hospital serving a region of 4.5 million people.
Barrett also announced that Intel has signed agreements with the Federal Ministry of Education to broaden several successful education initiatives, including training 150,000 teachers and donating 3,000 computers to schools.
"Access to education and technology increases the opportunities for the people of Nigeria, "Barrett said."We are working closely with the government on education and health initiatives in hopes that they will deliver real results in economic development and in the standard of living of citizens."
Barrett's trip is part of a worldwide "Expanding What's Possible" tour focused on digital accessibility and education.
Barrett travels in his dual role as Intel Chairman and as chairman of the United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Development, which has similar goals.
Earlier this week, Barrett also took part in the Connect Africa Summit in Rwanda, which explored ways to bring the benefits of technology to the African continent.
Accompanying Barrett on the trip was Bruce Sewell, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs.
He leads Intel's world wide public policy and corporate social responsibility efforts such as the ones announced in Africa.
In line with Intel's philosophy that "computers aren't magic, teachers are," the company plans to train 150, 000 teachers over the next five years through the Intel Teach Program.
The program, which focuses on integrating ICT in the curriculum, has already trained more than 8,000 educators in Nigeria since October 2006.
Barrett visited teachers and their students at the Government Secondary School Jabi Abuja where Intel installed 250 Intel-powered Classmate PCs.
The affordable, full-featured student laptop is designed so that teachers and students can share their information with the whole class.
Based on last year's successful pilot project at the school, Intel will donate 3,000 Classmate PCs to schools across Nigeria in the next few years.
The effort will be enhanced with the Intel skoool™ Interactive Learning and Teaching Technology program, which has been tailored for Nigeria so teachers can create locally relevant lessons in math and science for secondary students. Students will be able to access the school work using Classmate PCs.
"Since this whole project started a year back, statistically we have seen the students' records for the last three terms, and there has been a great improvement on the scores," said Perry O. Edegbe, a teacher at Government Junior Secondary School, Jabi-Abuja. "At each passing term, the students kept improving in their performance. I think the zeal is there for them. They are eager to learn more."
Through help from the Education Trust Fund and the Nigerian Communications Commission, Barrett announced that the educational model is expanding into 200 new schools nationwide.
Schools equipped with Classmate PCs will also double as community centers so Nigerians who do not own computers can share the PCs to access resources on the Internet.
Microsoft will be providing the Operating system to work on these computers, apparently for free, pipping Mandriva to the post.
One has to wonder whether Bill Gates annual visits to Nigeria has something to do with the most populous African country choosing Intel and Microsoft over alternatives like Mandriva or the OLPC laptop.