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Yesterday at Telenor’s Fornebu headquarters, Bangladesh’s i-Genius grand master in mobile browsing, Chowdhury Sadid Alam, took the stage to defend his title as the fastest Internet user on a feature phone.
A Bangladeshi native who just completed 12th grade, Chowdhury Sadid Alam is the winner of the i-Genius competition, a part of the i-Gen program designed to increase Internet awareness and usage among youth in Bangladesh. The 2011 program was run in cooperation with the Bangladeshi government, Opera Software and the leading Bangladeshi newspaper, and focused on lessening the barriers to the Internet for more than 300,000 people across Bangladesh.
1,000 schools get an i-Gen education
“In 2011, Grameenphone and partners ran 101 i-Gen festivals throughout the country, with the intention of teaching people how to use the Internet in a fun, intriguing and responsible way,” said Audrey Sjøstedt, i-Gen project manager in Telenor Group. “Students from more than 1,000 schools traveled to these festivals and received hands-on Internet training, as well as the chance to experience the very popular i-Genius competition.”
Browsing competition is a hit
The i-Genius competition turned into a main attraction during the festivals. Each participant was given a mobile phone and asked to find answers to trivia questions on the Web. The person who used their phone to answer the greatest number of questions correctly, won. Out of 10,000 participants, all 102 local i-Geniuses traveled to Dhaka for the final. And it was Chowdhury Sadid Alam who walked away with the title of i-Genius grand master.
“This program is about lowering the mental and social barriers to the Internet. We are showing people how to do things rather than just talking on a theoretical level,” said Kristin Skogen Lund, EVP and Head of Digital Services, during the opening address of the Fornebu event. “As a result of the first year, there are now 102 i-Genius ambassadors throughout all districts of Bangladesh who are spreading information about the Internet in their regions, including the grand master, Sadid.”
Feature phone + Opera Mini = Internet
Bangladesh is a densely populated country with low Internet penetration. However, many people have access to a mobile phone. Basic features phones are most predominant, and the Opera Mini Web browser offers a way for these phones to become a gateway to the Internet. The Bangladeshi government has stated that i-Gen goes hand-in-hand with their initiative to bring the country closer to a digital future.
Spreading the message of responsible Internet use
“By bringing i-Gen to Fornebu, we are first and foremost celebrating the 2011 Bangladesh i-Genius champion, Sadid. But we also want to build awareness and provide insight to employees and stakeholders on what Telenor is doing to bridge the digital divide, and to talk about how the Internet is an enabler in emerging markets,” said Audrey. “We see a parallel here to Telenor Norway’s “Bruk Hue” campaign against digital bullying. Both programs target students with the message of good and responsible use of Internet.”
And the winner is…
Last but not least, who won the i-Genius competition at Fornebu? No surprise to anyone in the audience…Sadid once again proved his super-powered browsing prowess, breezing through the first round of questions, and then answering three of the four questions correctly in the final, in just a matter of seconds.