JY JY John Nanabanyin Yeboah-Ghansah

This is a great innovation . Have you considered integrating Rori on any Blockchain Technology ? Most kids in Ghana do not have access to phones , how do you deal with this constraints?

Mr George Cowell

Hi John,

Thanks a lot for your questions.

Will answer in two parts:

1. Phone access

We know that access to phones in the Ghana adult population is extremely high, and ownership is now likely to be above 65% of the population (Based on GSMA data from 2019).

Yesterday we ran a focus group with 15 parents in the Kasoa region of Accra, and showed them Rori. All of the parents confirmed that they would be happy for their child to use their phone for learning after school for around 15-20 minutes pe-day. The parents also confirmed that they would want their children accessing Rori via their phones during weekends, holidays or any school closures.

Although obviously a very small sample, we feel confident that a very large percentage of parents in West Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa more generally, will feel comfortable sharing their phones with their children if they feel:

a) The phone is being used for meaningful, high-quality, learning activities
b) The associated costs are low (or removed entirely).

We think we can do both of these with Rori.

2) Blockchain

We have discussed the possibility of one day creating a reward token that could integrate through Rori.

This would allow students to accumulate tokens as they progress their learning, and could be redeemed for real-world items (Certificates/stationary/new avatar skins etc).

I personally love this idea, but it's a longer-term project that would only come in a later phase.

Would love to hear other thoughts / ideas you might have?

Tom Vandenbosch

In response to In which countries do you currently operate?

What's the mobile phone penetration is these countries? Even in households where there may be a mobile phone available, how do primary school children get access to these mobile phones?

Mr George Cowell

Thanks for the question Tom.

Let me split my response into two parts.

1. Mobile Phone Penetration

In recent years, mobile phone penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased dramatically. According to a 2019 report from GSMA, there are 747 million SIM connections in sub-Saharan Africa, representing 75% of the population.

In West Africa, where we plan to roll out Rori initially, access is higher than the average for Sub-Saharan Africa. A BBC Media Action report showed that access to a phone in Sierra Leone was as high as 83% of the population in 2016 - the highest of any of the media platforms, and growing at the fastest rate.

Importantly, mobile phone technology is one of the most equitable communication channels too. 80% of women and 78% of rural dwellers had access to mobile phones in Sierra Leone in 2016 (Compared to only 16% of the entire population having access to the internet)

In Ghana, Rori’s launch market, the number of mobile connections was equivalent to 132.8% of the total population (due to some people having more than 1 sim), with new mobile connections growing at a rate of 8.1% year on year (Kemp 2021). Overall mobile phone ownership is now likely to be above 65% of the total population, extrapolating from studies in 2019 and 2020.

Some of our own data support this. In November 2020, Rising did a market study of 4600 parents in the peri-urban regions of Accra. The surveys found that 73% of the parents interviewed not only had a phone, but also had a mobile money wallet set up, revealing a high-level of understanding of the technology.

As a result, we feel confident that a very high percentage of children across Sub-Saharan Africa will have access to a mobile phone in the household or immediate vicinity, and that this is higher, and more fairly distributed, than any other available technologies.

2. Access for Children

There are a number of successful examples of African edtech solutions which provide curriculum-aligned content to learners through the mobile devices of their parents. Organizations like PrepClass (Nigeria), Kytabu (Kenya) and Eneza (Ivory Coast and Kenya) have their primary customer as the parents with the beneficiary customer as the students.

We are confident we could generate similar buy-in.

Firstly, we have pre-existing, high-trust relationships with the parents who are already part of our school networks in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana. This should aid initial adoption and help us generate insights and a track record of success, which will in turn help us to build the case for Rori outside of our own schools.

In addition, data from our market study also gives us some early conviction that we will receive parental support for Rori. 79% of the parents we interviewed wanted access to distance learning opportunities, with the majority of respondents stating that they would pay up to 50GHC (approx $10usd) per month to obtain these additional resources.

Tom Vandenbosch

In response to What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

Key to the scaling potential would be agreements with telecom companies to ensure costs are manageable, with little to no charge to the end-user. Do you have any indication telecom companies would be open to such agreements?

Mr George Cowell

Hi Tom, it’s early days but having spoken to Telecom companies about similar education initiatives they’ve managed, and we think there are some good options available to us.

All providers offer value-added services that enable orgs like us to deliver content over SMS and online chat services for fixed amounts under a revenue-share model.

Organizations like Eneza and M-Shule have taken this approach, charging subscribers less than $1-a-month and removing other fees in the process.

However, there are a variety of other approaches we could take including raising philanthropic support to absorb all the costs away from the end-users, establishing partnerships with regional and national governments, or other school networks, developing a freemium/premium model or an approach that provides free access to targeted users.

We're also speaking with the digital transformation teams with the Telecom Foundations about how Rori could fit within their CSR portfolios and potentially become fully subsidised tools. It’s early days but the initial conversations have been encouraging.

We’ve also been approached by some third party organisations with a lot of experience in the space, who offer potential opportunities for Rori to integrate into their existing platforms.

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