Let's talk about digital inclusion

For the last ten years, the term “digital inclusion” has become increasingly prominent in the discussions among major technology groups. From the first signs, more concrete actions have followed. Today, the term is talked about more broadly across telephony and the internet, and is built into specific industry offers aimed at the most vulnerable. But does this mean digital inclusion is restricted to a few offers? What does it actually mean? And how does Orange tackle the subject of digital inclusion to guide its actions?    

Definition of digital inclusion

When we talk about this definition, we immediately think about large companies and their Foundations’ philanthropic actions. However today the topic of digital inclusion goes right to the heart of our businesses and their development priorities. It’s a major subject that involves everyone working across public and private sectors.

Within the Orange Group, each entity has its own approach for contributing to digital inclusion: by simplifying access to connectivity and planning tomorrow’s networks, while maintaining our current global networks, creating and developing learning initiatives for using digital services, supporting entrepreneurships and start-ups, as well as promoting innovation.


Digital inclusion: going beyond the clichés


Renaud Francou

Renaud Francou, a futurist at the Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération.
Digital technology can be seen as an accelerator of the “power to act” in our society, allowing everyone to have a positive impact and contribute to daily life as an individual and within a collective.
Renaud Francou, a futurist at the Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération.

Who are the digitally excluded?

Recent figures mention 13 million people in France who struggle with technology. But the great diversity of uses reveals a much more contrasting reality. Beyond the figures, we’re all potentially implicated because digital inclusion depends on the context in which we’re using it.

How is digital inclusion being promoted?

Digital inclusion varies according to a combination of factors. Self esteem, social connection and the ability to learn work together as a foundation. We can see that digital is a manifestation. It is not the cause of digital exclusion: digital divides fit with embrace social divides.


Read the Renaud Francou’s interview

Digital and the most vulnerable: highlights from our stakeholder dialogue

Illustration Dialogue Parties Prenantes


At Orange, we’re committed to developing useful and inclusive offers for everyone, including the most unconnected communities. That’s why in 2017, we conducted a stakeholder dialogue in France on the theme “precariousness and digital” and are now working to develop an offer aimed at the most vulnerable people in society.

Today, the pace of technological change is enabling people to access all types of information in just a few clicks, and perform a number of activities and transactions online. However this growing trend also highlights the potential for exclusion: especially among the most vulnerable populations. As a responsible operator, Orange helps take this complex subject into account by identifying solutions at the heart of its business activities.

As part of our series of stakeholder dialogues, our CSR team conducted a survey around the theme of precariousness and digital in France. A global observation has emerged: digital can strongly accentuate inequalities where it should be fixing or reducing them. Here are the three main lessons we can draw from the dialogue.

  • Vulnerable populations don’t just need help understanding how to use technology, but also the right equipment for getting online.
  • These populations expect adapted offers from Orange that combine a tariff, device and support, as well as an advisor function to help them get to the right content.
  • The expected experience must be non-stigmatising, reassuring, educational and if possible face-to-face.

3 key figures from the precariousness and digital survey

  • It’s estimated that 5 million people are excluded from society in terms of living standards and technology.
  • 9 million people are living in poverty in France.

Orange and connectivity: bringing everyone internet access

Illustration connectivity


In a world where new technologies are all around us, everyone should be able to access the internet. This is the foundation for digital inclusion. And it’s why Orange helps reduce digital exclusion and inequalities in order to fight e-illiteracy in France and around the world.

Inequalities when it comes to digital tools, uses, broadband access, skills… the digital divide covers a whole range of realities depending on the country and local context. For example, 52% of the world’s population still had no internet access in 2017. More than 15% of French people had no access to broadband, and e-illiteracy (digital illiteracy) extended to 25% of the French population.

Orange is helping to reduce these inequalities so that everyone can make the most of the digital world. That’s why we’re continuing to develop our networks as the foundation of all digital uses.

First of all, the Group is committed to increasing coverage even in rural areas, notably through developing high speed broadband through the deployment of fibre.
One in two households will be able to connect to FTTH by the end of 2019 in France. And the ambition is to reach 20 million households by the end of 2021. This ambition extends to Spain, Poland, Slovakia, Jordan and Côte d’Ivoire.

When it comes to the mobile network, Orange aims to provide 4G coverage for 99.6% of the French population by 2024. We’re also supporting the "Zones Blanches" (Blackspots) programme set up by the French government to ensure 3G and 4G mobile voice and data service coverage across all town centres.  
Orange now has a 450,000km global cable network and is constantly developing service quality and availability to support the explosion of digital services now available to customers. Submarine cables are not only internet highways but also real growth drivers for a region’s socio-economic development.

Enable everyone to develop through digital

At Orange, we firmly believe that digital technology is a powerful lever for individual and collective transformation and development. So how can we promote inclusion and ensure that digital has the potential to benefit everyone? By helping everyone to learn the right tools, regardless of their age or where they live. Teaching young people the basics, raising awareness among teens of the risks, helping people find jobs, and supporting professionals in their ways of working… Orange has set up many awareness and training initiatives across all of its operating countries.

Helping young people learn

Illustration Helping young people learn

Around the world, Orange encourages young people to learn how to manage and control digital technology so they can open up opportunities for personal and professional development. Here are just some top level highlights of how we support young people’s digital inclusion.

Digital skills have become essential in today’s job market. Acquiring digital knowledge is absolutely crucial in a world where more than one out of two schoolchildren will work in a role, once they’ve graduated, which doesn’t even exist yet.   

In France, Orange partners the Science Factor competition, which promotes technical and scientific projects from mixed teams managed by girls. This initiative aims to inspire school and college students to think about a career in a scientific/computing field. The #SuperCoders workshops, which introduce young people to the basics of coding, take place across 20 countries thanks to Orange employees who have volunteered their time to coach more than 30,000 young people since 2014.

Also since 2014, the Orange Foundation has been running a programme called Digital Schools  in 12 African countries. Through this initiative, we equip schools with technical tools in partnership with the ministries of education in each country. More than 13,000 children can now access essential educational content via tablets.

With its ambitious project “African Digital School”, Orange is supporting the democratisation of digital uses across the African content to promote the start-up ecosystem and new sectors of activity that will generate employment and therefore accelerate socio-economic growth. Offering online courses, an introduction to digital professions, and teacher training for new technologies, the Group has several partnerships in place to enable everyone to acquire new skills. In Tunisia, the Group has supported this ambition by opening up a new training centre – the Orange Developer Center – that teaches IT and developer skills to young people aged between 7 and 35 free of charge. This centre has encouraged 10,000 people to become developers, all in a single country!

The Orange Foundation is helping to educate the poorest communities

Digital Schools programme

Digital Schools programme

Digital Schools programme

532 schools in Africa and Jordan are now equipped with educational tools provided by the Orange Foundation. Schools that previously had no Internet access or resources beyond a simple blackboard to support the teacher can now, thanks to the Orange Foundation, access a free library of digital educational content from a server that doesn't need an internet connection, a video projector and a suite of tablets.

Teachers are able to provide school children with new learning resources promoting the chance of a brighter future. Whereas before they were far removed from socio-economic progress, these younger generations are now learning the digital tools and tech they need to access skills and knowledge.

This is how the Foundation's Digital Schools programme is helping to reduce inequalities in the poorest countries where Orange operates, by helping young people to learn and grow and access knowledge, education and training through digital tools and technology.

Supporting teens in their digital lives

illustration : supporting teens in their digital lives

Hyperconnectivity, addiction, e-reputation, exposing their personal data… how teens use (and abuse) digital technology can have a major impact on their lives. This is why Orange offers technical solutions, advice and support adapted to help them… and their parents. 

Digital technology can be an amazing tool for accessing information and knowledge. However, there are obvious risks, and teens are particularly exposed. That’s why digital players such as Orange have a duty to support them, as well as their parents, in regulating their use and protecting their privacy.

Firstly, with appropriate tech solutions: parental controls, access profiles for each connected device, special tariff plans that are adapted to children etc.

Secondly, by increasing awareness. The “Bien vivre le digital” website offers advice and guidance to help people learn about going online safely, as well as a space dedicated to help parents of teenagers. From moderating smartphone use to setting up parameters around social networks, it helps families establish good digital practices. To encourage family discussion, Orange also offers families a game called REZO, which was created in partnership with Okapi. It invites people to learn about social media in a fun and educational way and offers tips on how to make the most of it while minimising risks.

Of course, raising awareness isn’t limited to France. Orange Spain has launched a communication campaign to support teenagers in social media use to help them understand all the implications of what they’re doing online.  

Enabling equal access to employment through digital support 

The Orange Foundation is committed to making digital technology a driver for professional and personal development for young people with no qualifications, unemployed women and people with autism. Here are just some of the highlights from Orange Foundation’s projects.   

Women from the Toulouse Digital Centre (sitting alongside their trainer) have a positive outlook once again. They’re starting a new life after spending six months building their confidence, learning their rights and honing new digital skills.
A young person at the Solidarity FabLab in Madagascar makes a bionic hand for people with disabilities. In a country where pétanque (boules) is widely played, the low-cost design of this prosthetic limb enables this young man to develop useful skills and find employment.
Thanks to digital technology, and with a little help from his teaching assistant, Romain, who has autism, can participate in mainstream education. Using interactive tablets helps children with autism focus and communicate better with those around them.
Young people with learning difficulties set up a low-cost wheelchair project in a Solidarity FabLab in Madrid. The wooden prototype is constructed using a laser cutter and is just one example of the learning curriculum. By learning digital skills, they have a much brighter future.
Learning about the internet and its applications prepares women without qualifications or employment find new jobs. At the Belfort Digital Centre, Pascale learned how to manage her social media presence and search for jobs online. “The day I got an interview via an online job site, I knew I was on the right track!”

How digital can be a stepping stone to education and training

How digital can be a stepping stone to education and training

Digital can be a great enabler to access education and training. Aware of its potential, we support a range of ambitious projects that use our infrastructure and networks to deliver educational content across our operating countries.

When it comes to educational tools, digital offers the ability to reach a very large number of people, without any age restriction and without geographical constraints, through distance learning. This is why Orange is proactive when it comes to developing innovative ways of learning, joining with partners in education or vocational training such as ministries of education or specialist NGOs.

We pay particular attention to our 19 African countries, where we’ve set up training centres, tailor-made solutions and innovative e-education programmes. In partnership with the Centre National d’Enseignement à Distance (CNED), we offer access to educational content from the best universities and international training centres, which can be downloaded via MondoCNED. Another example? Thanks to the African start-up Eneza Education, Orange customers in Côte d’Ivoire can access mobile mini-lessons and multiple choice tests based on the national curriculum from Year 5 through to Year 13, and receive a personalised assessment.

Through our partnership with OpenClassrooms, a platform for online courses and mentoring, we also aim to accelerate the development of digital skills to help train young people for digital professions in Africa.

These initiatives all aim to simplify access to educational resources in order to promote academic and professional success and therefore offer isolated or marginalised populations the same chances of development as elsewhere.

Digital inclusion: what are the issues for companies?

Echoing the digital revolution that is driving our society forward, businesses of all sizes must also adapt to seize new opportunities and not get left behind.

Digital transformation has many impacts on today’s organisations including employees’ business activities, job roles, products and customer experience. What’s more, working practices and management methods are affected at all levels of the company.

“Beyond the technology itself, it’s about helping people to make the most of these new technologies; that’s what is important for companies,” explains Jérôme Goulard, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Diversity & Ethics of Orange Business Services.

Digital and disability: how inclusive design makes life easier

inclusive design

Each of us, regardless of where we’re from, our gender, class or disability must be able to access and make the most of the digital tools around us. They connect and integrate us into the world. The process of creating and producing these technological products is called “inclusive design”.

  • Inclusive design makes new technologies more intuitive and easier to access.
  • Inclusive design addresses a broader community than people with disabilities.
  • In a world profoundly changed by digital, at Orange, we’re aware of our duty to promote autonomy.
  • The Group’s open innovation strategy aims to provide a rapid response to people with disabilities through partnerships with start-ups in the sector. Thanks to this co-innovation, the opportunities offered by digital technology are continuing to grow quickly. 

Digital inclusion: start-ups that are making a difference

Contributing to the inclusion of young people, or people marginalised from education or employment, or people with disabilities… this is the goal of the following start-ups, which are all supported by Orange.

  1. Encouraging training and education

Four start-ups are working hard to democratise digital education and training. One such case is Coding Days, which runs short courses for people to understand and learn the basics of code. Similarly, Simplon.co is a network of ‘factories’ (schools) that offer free digital training and qualifications to disadvantaged communities including young people and people from working-class neighbourhoods etc.

In Africa, Caysti introduces young people to coding, robotics and the fundamentals of artificial intelligence through extra-curricular programmes and software. Kokoroe, last but not least, is an online training platform that aims to train people in the digital skills needed for tomorrow’s business world including artificial intelligence and blockchain.

  1. Supporting people with disabilities

Have you heard about Jaccede? This is a collaborative platform that allows people with reduced mobility to get the latest accessibility information about public places in France and abroad. The same is true in Egypt thanks to Mada, which connects 750,000 Egyptians with disabilities to adapted support mechanisms and promotes access to employment through a dedicated recruitment channel along with an online discussion forum.

It’s not easy to phone someone… when you’re hard of hearing

RogerVoice offers a solution thanks to its mobile app of the same name that helps people with hearing difficulties by transcribing voice calls into text captions.

  1. Promoting access to digital tools and resources

These three start-ups are helping thousands of people to access the potential of digital technology.
The first, Injobyte in Africa, has developed SinaInfo, a web, USSD and mobile app that relies in part on Orange Money. It provides real-time digital access to all the information visible on school display boards and makes it easier to buy class materials.
Payjoy, for its part, makes it easier for the two-thirds of the world’s population who don’t yet have a smartphone to buy one through their loan solution.
Finally, HelloAsso offers associations free online payment solutions, collection tools and crowdfunding.

Not to mention Hono, a new type of web agency

This web development and mobile app agency is helping to create a link between its customers and technology.