Telecommunications giant, Cellcom, formally launched its new "Empowering Liberia" initiative at a well-attended event held last Thursday at the Monrovia City Hall in Monrovia.
Graced by guest of honor, Vice President 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.
Over the last several weeks, Cellcom had been building up to the grand launch of the highly anticipated Empowering Liberia Initiative. A guest at the program, Chris Jackson said that he always expected the best from Cellcom and his anticipation had been exceeded yet again.
"I'm always looking out for the next big thing from Cellcom," said Mr. Jackson, "because they always come up with something new and unexpected and even though other companies try to copy, they are unable to match the innovation and affordable pricing that Cellcom offers. Cellcom has done it again."
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.
"It is my belief that in a country where above 70 percent of its population are young people, it tells me that any major initiative to transform Liberia should be focused on the young people who are the drivers of the economy as well as the future of this nation. It is my strong belief that the youth have a great responsibility to realize the dreams of this country, but it is our duty to provide them the tools they need to do so. Give the youth of Liberia the tools they need and they will make this country proud," Vasikaran told the crowd.
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 customed 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" stands for Ultra or ultimate, "V" represents victory, and 231 was in honor of the Liberian country code.
Mr. Vasikaran also 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. At an affordable price $129, Cellcom is 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.
Although unable to participate in the event due to travels abroad, both the Chairman of Cellcom's Board of Directors Mr. Avi Zaidenburg and Group CEO Mr. Avishai Marziano sent separate messages to mark the launching of the event.
Mr. Zaidenburg wrote: "I wish everyone great success in this new initiative. It is definitely another milestone for Cellcom and the business life of the company. I thank each and every one present here at this event for coming to grace this occasion."
For his part, Vice President Boakai lauded Cellcom for the Empowering Liberia Initiative. He admonished other companies to follow the example of Cellcom.
"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."
Other speakers making remarks were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the President Pro Tempt of the Liberia Senate, and the Chairs of the Senate and House committees on telecommunications all of who lauded Cellcom's newest initiative.
In related developments, Cellcom has also announced that it now has the new Samsung Galaxy S5 in stock and on sale at its headquarters on the Capital Bypass.