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Ralf Jurrien
brand GSM Association category Industry news

Mobile services for refugee camps

content type Press information Mail the editor Posted by Ralf Jurrien
Tuesday, October 2nd 2007 - 13:00 CEST - Comments: 0
T he GSMA, the global trade association for mobile operators, is to lead a programme to connect refugee camps in northern Uganda to mobile networks to support family reunification, education, healthcare, economic activity and other needs. Through its Development Fund, the GSMA, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), will work with mobile operators and equipment suppliers to use the cost-effectiveness of GSM mobile networks and devices to provide refugees with affordable and sustainable access to a wide range of services from voice calls to Internet access to electronic learning programmes.
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Mobile services for refugee camps 


Mobile services to educate children

"Information is a basic human need and it is vital that we do everything we can to help refugees fulfil that need," said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSMA, announcing the programme at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. "Mobile networks are the only economically viable way to connect refugee camps to the outside world and provide their occupants with the means to communicate with their relatives, access health information, run a business and, above all, educate their children."


Mobile services for refugee camps in Uganda

Early in 2008, refugee camps in northern Uganda will have access to mobile connections through a pilot project being set up by the GSMA Development Fund with local operator MTN Uganda and mobile equipment supplier Ericsson. The pilot will provide refugees with shared access to voice and data services similar to those already deployed by the GSMA and local operators in rural communities elsewhere in Uganda, in Algeria, Kenya, India, Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa. Under this innovative approach, which is designed to be self-sustaining, one of the villagers has the opportunity to establish a small business providing use of mobile phones, or computer terminals with mobile Internet access, to their community.


Refugee camps 


GSMA Development Fund - Mobile communications

Assuming the pilot is successful, the GSMA and its partners will replicate the concept in refugee camps in other parts of the world. As well as meeting the immediate needs of refugees to connect with relatives and find out information, the programme is designed to be a key element of the UNHCR's nine million initiative, which aims to provide nine million refugees with primary and secondary education, vocational training, life-skills training, access to computer technologies and recreational and sports programmes by 2010. "I commend the work of the GSMA Development Fund to bring much needed mobile communications to refugee settlements," said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres. "The UNHCR's primary purpose is to protect the rights and well-being of refugees, and connectivity not only allows refugees to connect with families and communities at home, but it also enables entrepreneurialism, drives education and provides opportunity and hope for the future."


Refugee Connectivity pilot

"Our commitment to the Refugee Connectivity pilot is in line with our vision to be the prime driver in an all-communicating world," said Carl-Henric Svanberg, President and CEO of Ericsson. "It will allow us to apply our core technology to connect some of those in greatest need, and we hope that mobile connectivity will also stimulate local business development in the area."


GSM communications - MTN

"MTN is delighted to support this pioneering initiative that highlights how GSM communications can be used to improve the quality of life for some of the most marginalized communities within the African continent," said Noel Meier, CEO of MTN Uganda.


Mobile services


GSMA Development Fund - Mobile services for refugee camps

The GSMA Development Fund will lead the development and delivery of the pilot, including the development of the feasibility study and business case to ensure the solution is self-sustainable.


UNHCR - Mobile services for refugee camps

UNHCR will provide support and assist with access to refugee settlements in northern Uganda. The UNHCR will also facilitate the relationships and introductions to specific implementation partners required to deliver a sustainable and scalable pilot in Uganda.


Ericsson - Mobile services for refugee camps

Ericsson has committed to support the pilot by extending and upgrading the existing network to enable efficient voice and data capabilities. This will include the required technical solution, including alternative power sources as appropriate, as well as the development of possible mobile applications and the provision of phones.


MTN Uganda - Mobile services for refugee camps

MTN Uganda has committed to supporting the pilot with the expansion of the GSM network in order to provide coverage for "Shared Access to Voice" and "Shared Access to Data" services.

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