Airtel Uganda launches innovative 1-6-1 service

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Service will provide public service information free of charge

Airtel Uganda and Human Network International (HNI), have today launched Uganda’s call-in system, called the 1-6-1 Service that will provide free, on-demand information for fishing and farming communities via across the country. The Service will provide free public service information on demand to mobile phone users in five local languages and English.

The 1-6-1 Service is provided in partnership with HNI, a global development organization dedicated to technology in the developing world.

Airtel Uganda Managing Director, Anwar Soussa addressing the media during the launch of 1-6-1 service code
Airtel Uganda Managing Director, Anwar Soussa addressing the media during the launch of 1-6-1 service code

Designed to be very easy to use for all Ugandans, the service is accessible to everyone with a mobile phone, smartphone or otherwise.

Using recorded messages by native speakers, the 1-6-1 service is convenient for all Ugandans, regardless of age, education and literacy. By dialing “161”, users will connect the caller to voice prompts in Ateso, English, Luganda, Lugbara, Luo or Runyakitara (a hybrid of Rukiga, Runyankole, Runyoro, and Rutoro).

Airtel Uganda officials, Human Network International officials, officials from Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture pose for a group during the Launch of 1-6-1 service code
Airtel Uganda officials, Human Network International officials, officials from Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture pose for a group during the Launch of 1-6-1 service code

Speaking at the launch of the call-in system, Charity Rwabutomize, the CSR manager said, “Airtel Uganda is proud to introduce Uganda’s first free on-demand service for both smartphones and regular mobile phones. The 1-6-1 service will provide information on farming, financial literacy, family planning and other public service information which are all relevant to both individuals and communities across Uganda.”

“The public service messages were created and curated by committees convened by our partner, HNI. These committees included representation from government ministries, plus Ugandan and international subject area experts,” she added.

Human Network International Program Manager, Jamie Arkin, addressing the media during the launch of 161 service code at Airtel Uganda
Human Network International Program Manager, Jamie Arkin, addressing the media during the launch of 161 service code at Airtel Uganda

“The call-in system, is designed to be very easy to use for all Ugandans, especially those living in rural areas. For farmers and fishing communities, there is information to help prepare for the growing season, and to adapt to climate change.  More topics and messages are planned for the service in the near future, such as health, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy,” she concluded.

Mr Tonny Kisadha (Centre) of Human Network International addressing the media as Human Network International Program Manager (left) and Airtel Uganda Managing Director, Answar Soussa look on during the launch of 161 service code
Mr Tonny Kisadha (Centre) of Human Network International addressing the media as Human Network International Program Manager (left) and Airtel Uganda Managing Director, Answar Soussa look on during the launch of 161 service code

Jamie Arkin, HNI Uganda Program Manager said, “Uganda has one of the youngest, fastest growing populations in the world and people here are excited to use technology in new and innovative ways.  By turning simple mobile phones into search engines, HNI and Airtel are giving people a whole new way of accessing information. International partners including Self Help Africa, the Global Resilience Partnership, USAID, PACE, and Ugandan partners such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health have done a tremendous job creating informative and actionable content”, she added.

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