Image caption: Ethan Yona, and his friends. Ethan started developing his EthanMan game when he was five years of age! (He convinced his Mom to let him have a smartphone when he was four. She agreed... with conditions, supervision and guidance!)

#LionessMom (Part 5)

__ Two of the smartest things you can do for your child, and the continent, today!

When our youngest daughter was less than 10 years old, my wife would drive her to school in our neighbourhood. Whilst the child sat in the back seat, my wife would give her the smartphone to hold. Then she would ask her to look for answers to questions, and read them out… The objective was very simple, she wanted her to be extremely familiar with searching for answers on her phone.

Today she owns a smartphone, and I have never seen anyone that digitally “native.” She is also the most “techie” of my children, and the one we call when we need to fix something.

Every child should have access to a mobile smartphone. That’s one of the smartest things you can do for your child, and for our continent. Even if you cannot afford to buy one right away, you should allow your child to have (monitored) access to the phone in your hand right now, for up to 1-2 hours a day.

A “smartphone” is actually a handheld computer. (If you can use WhatsApp or Facebook then you have a smartphone). With wise guidance, this phone of yours can eventually even open up university doors to your child. (Speaking of which, what a great time we had at this week’s town hall at the University of Ghana. Thanks to everyone who took part.)

Now it’s amazing how many people will tell you they don’t have a computer, even though they have a smartphone. In Africa we already have more than 300m smartphones, which means a significant number of adults do have computers already! This number is expected to reach 500m within two years!

This is remarkable because we’re on our way to everyone actually owning a computer within five years.

So: “What is that in your hand?”

Answer: “Smartphone, or shall I say, computer!”

More than that: it is a powerful tool to help advance the education of a child, or empower a teacher!


“Why not!”

We can write Apps that deliver educational materials to children and help teachers get answers to questions, and access to materials such as books, etc. (Here in this image is young Ethan, showing his friends “EthanMan,” an educational App that he himself helped to develop. Wow!)

#Smart LionessMoms give their children access to a smartphone! (Of course, this must be supervised and guided. Don’t just set your young child free on the Internet!!)

The second smart thing you can do today, as a responsible parent, is to ensure that your child’s teacher has a smartphone! Even better would be to get that teacher (or teachers) a tablet computer or laptop.

__We have now reached the point where if a teacher has no access to a computer, we’re being criminally negligent towards the future of our children, and with it, our nations!

Now just suppose your national leaders or local government authorities have other priorities than providing computers to teachers (even though I cannot imagine a greater priority than the education of our children). If that is the case, what do you do as a parent?

__Get together with other parents and buy them for each teacher in your school! There’s no time to waste!

Let me close with a simple but touching story: Many years ago a group of village elders from a remote part of my country came to see me in my office in the city. They had with them a teenage boy. The chief of the village spoke for the group.

“When this boy was very young, his parents died, and left him in the care of his grandmother,” the Chief said. “The teachers came and told me that he was unusually clever, but no one could pay his fees. I gathered these men you see here with me, and we agreed to keep him in school.”

Then he handed me a piece of paper, carefully wrapped in a folder. “These are his results,” he said proudly.

Looking at them, I was totally astounded.

“We cannot afford the university fees, and we thought that perhaps you could join us in supporting him.”

This was easily the best example of leadership that I had ever seen. This is the leadership it will take to transform Africa today.

__What is even more remarkable is that, on this platform right now, there are men and women who can take charge and lead just like this village chief did.

“What about very poor children?

This is where all of our philanthropy comes in. EACH one of us must work to empower just one child’s access to a computer. That’s 3.1+m smartphones, tablets and/or laptops, right here on this platform!

# Empower a child today.

# Empower a teacher today.

# Empower a country today.

It’s all in your hands, today!

To be continued. . .

You can download Ethan Yona’s app online on the Google Play Store

by 22 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

22 thoughts on “#LionessMom (Part 5)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.

    This evening, ask your child which teachers have a computer of their own. If the teachers have no computers, start a program to raise money to buy them computers. This is how a #LionessMom leads for change. The answer is no longer a computer room with computers with no power! Every single teacher must have a computer.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.

    At the Higherlife Foundation we have quietly empowered more than 1.1m kids in Zimbabwe to access educational material online using our Ruzivo platform. We work with teachers. We even send volunteers to schools to help teachers get online. Our volunteers remain in contact with teachers who call them whenever they have a problem. We are grateful to the new government in Zimbabwe for their extraordinary support towards these initiatives, which have gone on for over 20 years.

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.

    A friend of ours in South Africa, who is a roaring #LionessMom, enrolled her daughter when she was about 10 years old into an online program run by one of the leading American universities for young people. Many people thought she was really “over ambitious” for her daughter! Now guess what?!

    That daughter is now a young adult studying in America, at one of the Ivy League universities on a full scholarship! #LionessMomRoar! There are many similar programs available. If you really want it, you will find them.

    • Obinna

      Please, sir. I want a link to such a programs for young people.
      I have searched the internet, but I didn’t see anyone. I guess I don’t know where to look. Help. I need for the young people around me.
      Anyone for adults too, I would appreciate.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 4.

    “Do you have your bible on your phone?” The pastor asked the church. Then he added: “Today, you must sell your shoes, and buy a phone which can carry the entire Bible.”

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 5.

    Anyone can criticize governments and those in authority for things not done, but we cannot afford to then just to wait for the most important things that need to be done. There is a saying: “Don’t make perfect the enemy of good!”

    It would be great for every child (and teacher) to have access to a desktop or laptop. But if we can get started with any old smartphone for now, why not?

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Flame writes,

    i actually have never owned a laptop or table.Im empowering teenagers young adults and adults on hiv matters.Being hiv is no death sentence you need to expose yourself to the opportunities this world brings to you.Thank you Dr Strive for this empowering teaching.Im 40 but i know a lot awaits me. I have lived with hiv for 15yrs now

    My reply,
    Being only 40 years old, you are very young, and you must buy a tablet immediately! You will destroy your own future if you don’t invest in a proper computer.

    This work you are doing on HIV/AIDS is very important, but you will not be as effective as you can be without a proper computer. The cheapest computer is a tablet.

    The good news for you is that you already have a computer (Smartphone) because you would not have been able to access Facebook without access to a computer and the Internet.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    There are many people who use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp, using their Smartphone, but don’t want to explore other aspects of the Internet. This is like a guy who lives in a mansion but only knows the pantry!

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Donald writes,

    This is Awesome Dr Strive . This reminds me a story of a 8 yrs old daughter . Daughter of my brother , She always came to me asked me about her homework then one day I was tired and I started to teach her how to find answers on Google using my phone . Next day when she came to school without hesitation, She took my phone and go straight to Google and start researching answers of her questions on Google . Following days she asked me to open Facebook a/c so that she can also get in touch with rich people . And I didn’t see any problem on that because she is building entrepreneurial mindset since she always say she want to become an Entrepreneur when she grow up . The challenge is her biological parents don’t want her to focus too much on Internet, they always said to me, you want to spoil my kid . Internet is not good for young people. When I try to educate her about the importance of be informed and always encourage to watch news channels ,Her parents again said she must watch Cartoons ,News are for the adults . So now she is like confused because she don’t know who to follow but her Ambition is to become an Entrepreneur. Can you help me Doc with the ideas and solutions to this challenge. Whenever I try to talk about the importance of Technology to her parents and also great things happening outside there they always say there is nothing like that can happen . When I told them a story of Ethan Yona, they said this is impossible how an 6 year old do such things . When I show them a story of Ethan Yona , they said hakuna zvinhu zvakadaro (Impossible ) obviously his parents did that for him . I don’t know Doc how can we help parents of this mindset .

    My reply,
    You need to focus your attention on your brother and his wife. Get them to understand the benefits of the Internet for themselves.
    Show them Educational platforms like Ruzivo, and countless others that are on the Internet.
    Bring them into discussions with other people who understand the Internet.
    You will win, [you must win] their confidence.

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Tee Siya,

    I am a government teacher in Botswana. I recently conducted a research on how often primary school teachers used teaching and learning aids. My findings were that most teachers used the chalkboard and textbooks. But textbooks were always inadequate. Of all teachers who used computers/ipads these were personally personal possessions of teachers and schools did not have computers and were not connected to the internet. To add salt to the injury schools had internal policy of not allowing students to come to schools with smart phones! Contrary to your suggestion here.

    My reply,
    As you know my family moved to the UK from SA in 2009. Every child was required to have a computer, and they had access to their teachers by email, every day. As parents we soon got used to daily communications with teachers by email.
    Yes they had policies on Smartphones in class, but this is quite simple to enact.
    In places like Singapore, South Korea, the use of computers by teachers and students of all ages is totally mandatory.
    The key in Africa is to help teachers get tablets (cheapest computers) but even getting them to understand that a Smartphone is also a computer which can be used for other things beyond What’s App, and Facebook is very important.

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Oagana writes,

    Asian countries, Europe and America have full fledged programs that enable children as young as 5 years to access a computer. The world has gone digital: IoT, VR, AR and AI. If all of us can stand up and give our children the 21st tools [laptops/desktop/tablets] that our grandparents had not seen and could not afford, then Africa will prosper.

    My reply,
    You are absolutely right!
    I could not agree with you more.

    See a Smartphone as a computer for accessing the Internet, before you see it as a device to phone [for speaking to someone] or device for social media.
    And when you see it as a computer, use it as a tool to empower and educate your child and yourself. Asian countries, Europe and America have full fledged programs that enable children as young as 5 years to access a computer. The world has gone digital: IoT, VR, AR and AI. If all of us can stand up and give our children the 21st tools [laptops/desktop/tablets] that our grandparents had not seen and could not afford, then Africa will prosper.

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Pastor Nathan writes,

    Am a pastor and, in my country Uganda, many pastors will indeed rebuke members for carrying electronic and not paper Bibles! Thanks Strive! Uve inspired me to lead a tech revolution in my community. Tomorrow I will begin to teach my son how to use my smartphone!!!

    My reply,
    All the church needs to do is ask everyone to put their [Smartphone or Tablet] device in “Flight Mode” so that they are not accessing the Internet during the actual service.
    I personally have more than 15 Bible translations on my Smartphone and Tablet. I can move from one translation to another in a matter of just seconds, using my bible App.
    I love it!

    I also record every single service I attend on my phone. All my notes are done on my Tablet device or phone.

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Brighton writes,

    An investment in your child’s teacher is an investment in your child’s future.The nature of the times demand that we equip those to whom we entrust with the responsibility of empowering our children.So this is a call to empower a generation.And it must not go unanswered.Thank you for making this urgent and very important call sir.(I will do my own bit).

    My reply,
    Well said. I should really make a poster of what you have just said and send it to every parent in Africa.

    The cheapest Tablet computer is less than $100. Just imagine if we ran a campaign for parents to buy such small computers for teachers at their schools. Each parent would contribute about $10, and the whole school would have tablets!
    Next we need our entrepreneurial minded citizens to start digitizing and uploading local books. Others can work on adapting thousands of teaching tools, that are available online for local conditions.
    Others will develop all kinds of Apps, like Ruzivo to enhance the teaching experience.
    As the teachers become more adept at using computers they begin to engage each other and even parents through special chat rooms, and other platforms.
    You don’t have to have a High Position in Government to get something done, that is so easy to do.

    We need a 21st Century partnership between parents, teachers, governments and entrepreneurs to prepare our children for life in the 21st Century.

  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Breaking News!
    This morning Facebook notified me that this particular post has reached 16m people in less than 24 hours!
    This issue has clearly resonated well throughout our beautiful continent and its supporters around the world.

    We have it in our hands to prepare our children and their teachers for the 21st Century, and we must start NOW!

  14. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    We need entrepreneurs who can find ways to instal Free Wi-Fi hotspots in every school and college across each of our countries. This MUST happen. We cannot talk about the role of ICT when we don’t install Free Wi-Fi Hotspots in schools and colleges. It is the cheapest and most cost effective way of providing Internet access in schools and colleges. The technology behind mobile networks is too costly and cumbersome for ICT access in schools, colleges and other public spaces.

    The beauty of Wi-Fi technology is that you as parents can organize a system for your school if you are determined. You don’t need to wait for government or local authorities. This is part of the investment strategy we need for our schools.

    #Let me know when you have done it for your school, and I will contribute a Kwese decoder, so they can watch Kwese Know, and Kwese Inc!
    Who will take up my challenge, now?

  15. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Flame writes,

    i agree i think schools need education on internet and its advantages.Instead of hard books pdfs should be used.In my ordinary phone i have about 65 books and usually i just switch off data and read.Im surprised very few zimbabweans follow your posts.Sometimes being familiar with a particular person makes you loose the plot.I rather cancel all appoints and read articles you post on facebook and read what other people are doing as well

    My reply,
    Your comment:
    “..Im surprised very few zimbabweans follow your posts”

    Due to the large following I have on Facebook, they give me access to certain information which you do not see.
    For instance I know the exact number, location, and demographics of the more than 16m who will have seen this particular post, as well as the make up of the 3,1m regular followers.

    The number of Zimbabweans [your concern] is actually extremely high. If I told you the number you would fall out of your chair!
    I even know the number of Zimbabweans who follow from outside the country.

    As you would expect the largest number of my followers is in Nigeria.

    India also does very well for some reason.

    I’m a “data guy” remember!

  16. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Nana writes,

    Dominic Ntiakor ur soo right. I was thinking of Ghana and her numerous rules and regulations that hinder the Ghanaian cgild whilst reading the write- up. We have a long way to go if the system isnt changed. Hopefully someone at the top is reading this as well and that spirit of change will enact in him or her.

    My reply,
    I will be sure to also raise it with your President. I first met him more than 30 years ago when we were both much younger!

    He has always respected my ideas, and we talk freely when we meet.

    I’m in regular contact with many of your ministers due to the fact that they read my posts.

    There is a buzz in Ghana at the moment that I really like.

  17. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Econet EduTech:
    This is a company in our group that focuses on the development of education solutions. It does for-profit, as well as not-for-profit ventures.
    Ecoschool, Ruzivo, and Muzinda Hub are all ventures of Econet EduTech. We do a lot of things in this area:

    This week Econet EduTech launched its EXCLUSIVE partnership with Shaw Academy, an interactive education platform which offers a wide array of professional courses.
    It is now available in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ghana. Other countries will follow shortly.

    Visit if you want to learn more.

    I told you there is a lot of opportunity in education for entrepreneurs!

  18. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Flame (again!) writes,

    Hatfield Girls high has installed wifi in the school its been running since January

    My reply,
    Congratulations Hatfield Girls!
    Great leadership from your Head Teacher, and PTA.
    If you have a room at your school, I would love to give you guys a flatscreen TV set, and Kwese TV decoder. Please contact the Kwese TV team in Zimbabwe, and show them this note. They will already know about it!
    The Kwese business in Zimbabwe is run by a real #LionessMom, who is one of my best executives!

    Your next project as a school is to ensure that all your teachers own a computer (even a tablet). If your parents get together and contribute just $10 each then the job is done!

    Come on girls, you are the next #Lioness Leaders of Africa. You can do it!
    Then when this is done, choose a rural school and help them to raise money for their teachers to get a Tablet each.

  19. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ms Maria writes,

    Thank you Mr Masiyiwa for Ruzivo digital learning. I’m using it for teaching my Learners.In Masvingo .Zimbabwe. Job well done.Can you extend that to other rural areas who can’t access internet.Thank you once again Sir

    My reply,
    Maria this is soo…oh exciting to hear!
    You sound to me like a real #Lioness Leader!
    I love Masvingo. I used to spend a lot of time there when I lived in Zimbabwe.

    You are also one of the 16,000 teachers we call Ruzivo Teacher, who are our partners in this initiative to ensure the African child acquires the computer skills to compete with kids from China, Singapore and South Korea.
    To achieve this we need to start with a few simple things:
    #1. Put a tablet computer in the hands of every teacher. For Zimbabwe it would cost less than $25m.
    #2. Skill up the teachers, and give them support:
    This can be done by training an ‘army’ of young techie school leavers, who are assigned to different schools and their teachers.
    Within 6 months every teacher will know how to use a tablet in their work.
    #3. Ask parents to buy cheap tablets for their kids. This can be done within two years. It is the equivalent of 1 term in school fees.

    #4. Install Free Wi-Fi Zones in schools. In remote rural areas it can be done with satellite links. Very cheap.

    #5. Encourage entrepreneurs and teachers to partner to develop digital content. All our Shona and Ndebele (and other languages) school materials, should be digitized.
    Also adapt best in class platforms from around the world.

    #6. Introduce Coding as a school subject at High School level. Anyone who teaches maths or science can be trained to teach this subject within 6 weeks!

    #The above can be used as a guideline by Parent Teacher’s Associations, Head Teachers, and policy makers in any African country.

    #The whole thing would cost less than 10% of what parents currently pay in one year in school fees to their governments. Enterprising schools and parents can do most of the above on their own.

    Within 5 years you would have put in motion a revolution that would make it easy for any African country to draw the kind of investors who are looking for world class skills. This is what education will mean in future!

  20. Nixon

    Nixon writes:Thanx Mr Masiyiwa for challengng me lm tht guy who lives in a mansion but knows th pantry only kkk.Today b4 l read. yo. post. had made up my mind to read th free course on shawacademy.

  21. Strive Masiyiwa Post author


    Launch of Continental Free Trade Area (FTA):

    I arrived in Kigali last night for the historic launch of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
    For Africa to unleash a market of 1,2bn people with a GDP of over $3Tn [bigger than Russia, and almost equal to India), this is a BIG, BIG DEAL!!!

    #1. This deal has been 10 years of hard negotiations by trade and finance ministers from every African country!
    What a privilege to see African leaders put pen to paper. There are 29 Heads of State and Government here.
    #2. For entrepreneurs this deal means we are a step closer to #OneAfrican market:
    #We can now build really big Continental companies!
    #3. It will mean more jobs, as it will help draw investment!

    #4. It will mean the type of prosperity we see in the countries of Asia!

    #5. Don’t allow the fearful to do what they always do…spread their fear to you!

    #6. We have to make this work. Talk about it. Take charge. Lead!

    Note: I will be speaking in the first panel this morning at 9:30. I won’t be able to attend the whole event because I must get to New York later on today for another important meeting.


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