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?
Digital inclusion as e-inclusion, it is the process whereby technology such as telephony and the internet is made more accessible to individuals by helping them learn the right skills to take advantage of the tools they need for social and economic integration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
L’expérience attendue doit être non stigmatisante, rassurante, pédagogique et se faire en présentiel.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 thanks to Orange employees who have volunteered their time to coach more than 30,000 young people since 2014 across 20 countries.
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. 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.
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!
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.
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.