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Airtel Completes Refugee Camp Connectivity Initiative

Airtel Uganda has announced the completion of a two-year initiative to connect the country’s refugee camps and their residents to their fast, affordable and reliable network.

The initiative that kicked off in 2016 has seen the telecommunications company establish masts in and around more than 10 refugee camps located in different parts of the country.

Across the world, more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their home countries, and about 1.4million of these are in Uganda. This large number has attracted a host of Non-Governmental Organizations, which are providing relief services in form of post-trauma counseling, food, necessities and money.

Amid some social and economic problems, the camps have been facing connectivity issues making access to basic financial services almost impossible.

It is for this reason that Airtel has dedicated substantial resources to expand and upgrade their infrastructure in these different camps – in an effort to ease communication as residents search for long lost family members and also introduce them to financial services that they can leverage on to empower themselves.

Today, BidiBidi, Swinga, Akpopoa, Langi, Rwamwanja, Nakivale, Imvepi, Ailo camp, Lugbari and Palabek Ogili are all connected to Airtel’s network and can access 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity without leaving the camp. Airtel’s modernized network drives affordable communication, digital penetration, financial inclusion (aid to refugees is distributed through MM – Human Cash Transfers).

Below is a summary of the connected refugee camps:

Site Name

Technology

Date on air

BidiBidi_UNHCR4

2G+3G+4G

5-Dec-2016

Swinga_UNHCR1

2G+3G+4G

5-Dec-2016

Akpopoa_UNHCR3

2G+3G+4G

23-Jun-2017

Langi_UNHCR2

2G+3G+4G

23-Jun-2017

Rwamwanja

2G+3G+4G

30-Oct-2017

Nakivale

2G+3G+4G

6-Nov-2017

Imvepi

2G+3G+4G

30-Jan-2018

Ailo camp

2G+3G+4G

18-Jul-2018

Lugbari

2G+3G+4G

21-Aug-2018

Palabek Ogili

2G+3G+4G

5-Sep-2018

Pagirinya

2G+3G+4G

TBD – under rollout

At a recent mast launch in Palabek Refugee Camp, the Airtel Uganda Managing Director V.G. Somasekhar noted that the new masts do not have any premium cost for internet on 3G & 4G, offering subscribers in Palabek camp the same affordable rate and same opportunity accorded to a resident of Kampala to improve their life leveraging on Airtel’s robust network.

“As at 5th September 2018, we had completely connected ten major refugee camps to our network and are currently finalizing Pagirinya camp. With connectivity, communities in and around Uganda’s refugee camps will be able to improve their lives through trade, education and commerce and benefit from the full offerings of Airtel Uganda’s reliable network,” he noted.

He also appreciated the Government of Uganda’s humanitarian policy towards refugees that has turned Uganda into a beacon of hope and a fresh start for many displaced people from across the region.

The benefits of a stable network in the refugee camps stretch far beyond the simple ability to communicate with one another within and outside the camp. Non-Governmental Organizations such as DanChurchAid, UNHCR and many others also rely on a stable network to electronically send vulnerable refugees financial assistance, whereas residents of host communities and surrounding areas are using the network to improve their lives through trade, e-commerce and entrepreneurship.

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