ITU donates satellite phones towards Cyclone Idai rescue efforts

By Staff reporter | 05 Apr 2019 at 08:32hrs
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) yesterday handed over 20 satellite phones to the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services for use in areas affected by Cyclone Idai.

The phones come with US$2000 worth of airtime per each unit.

The satellite phones will help establish reliable communication in the affected areas where traditional communication infrastructure was destroyed. A satellite phone or other satellite-enabled communications are able to work in areas where cell towers and other traditional systems were affected, making it a good resource for any emergency kit. They provide critical connectivity that operates reliably, effectively, and efficiently. Another good thing about these phones is that they are in a low-earth orbit, less susceptible to storms, earthquakes, floods, fires, and other disasters.

Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Kazembe Kazembe received the satellite phones on behalf of the government and handed them over to the Civil Protection Unit who are coordinating all rescue efforts in the affected areas. However, the phones will have to be returned to ITU so that they can be used in other areas affected by disasters such as Cyclone Idai.

Speaking at the event, Minister Kazembe commended the effort done by ITU with the equipment donated.

"As a ministry, we approached ITU and asked for assistance in the form of satellite phones because as you would appreciate the telecommunications infrastructure was also affected, it was not spared so in some areas we do not have communication."

"From what we are witnessing here today, they came to our rescue, they sent 20 satellite phones. They have also given us airtime worth US$2000 per unit which works out to be US$40 000," he said.

The ITU was represented by Mrs Anee Ritah Ssemboga who clarified that the donation was only for a short period of time and the phones would have to be returned to ITU.

"The equipment is very expensive that is why we do not donate freely to countries, we need it to be reused in other countries. After three months when everything has been exhausted we return them to Geneva" she said.

Minister Kazembe expressed gratitude towards such a timely intervention.

"We want to sincerely thank the ITU, this is not the first time they have done this, they have done this before when we had floods in Muzarabani some years, they came to our rescue and gave us these units," he said

Minister Kazembe took this opportunity to applaud efforts done by telecommunications operators who were mobilised to come together and find ways to assist to mitigate the challenges that the country faced and they responded swiftly. The operators played a huge role by donating in cash, kind and other equipment being used in the disaster management efforts.

"As I am speaking the majority if not all of them are on the ground working very hard," said Minister Kazembe.

One of the satellite phones donated by International Telecommunications Union

The donation by ITU came at a time when the country is still being confronted by disaster management and rescue efforts in dealing with effects of Cyclone Idai which left about 268 people dead, hundreds missing, thousands displaced and a trail of massive damage to infrastructure.



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