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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ericsson, Zain partner GSMA on live saving mobile @ Lake Victoria

World leader in telecommunications equipment vendoring, Ericsson is combining forces with owners of Celtel International, Zain alongside the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) to offer live saving mobile coverage of Lake Victoria.

This would see to some 200,000 fisherman working on Lake Victoria having the opportunity to use mobile phones to call for help if they get into trouble on the world’s second largest inland lake, as commitment to corporate responsibility of the trio.

The initiative being funded by the GSMA Development Fund, would ensure that mobile networks extension across the Lake Victoria region, thereby fuelling economic and social development of the lakeside communities and potentially reduce the number of fishing-related deaths each year.

Throwing light on this development, Head, Corporate and Marketing Communications, Ericsson West Africa, Mr. Olabode Sowunmi Jnr. said that Zain and Ericsson are upgrading Celtel’s existing infrastructure as well as building an additional 21 radio sites to provide mobile coverage up to 20 kilometres into the lake.

This, he said, would take about six months and ensure mobile coverage to over 90 per cent of the fishing zones, where up to 5,000 people die each year from accidents and piracy.

He also said that the project would use Ericsson’s extended range software package to more than double the effective range of radio base stations and Ericsson’s Mobile Position System, a location-based service that enables emergency authorities to triangulate the mobile signal of fishermen in distress. Ericsson’s green site solutions, Mr. Sowunmi added include solar and hybrid power solutions, which will be utilized to provide electric power to the base stations in the more remote island areas.

Equally, GSMA and Zain are working with the governments in the region and not-for-profit groups to establish a rescue coordination service to provide assistance to lake users, which in the longer term will be run by the East African Commission (EAC’s) planned Regional Maritime Communications Centre (RMCC).

This initiative is helping to fulfill the objectives of the EAC Lake Victoria communications strategy, which was adopted in 2007.

Till date, Ericsson, Zain and GSMA have spent the last six months investigating how to provide better communications for the 30 million people in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda who live in the immediate vicinity of the lake.

The move to extend the region’s mobile network reflects the companies’ commitment to corporate responsibility and to improving lives through communication, and is supported by a solid business case based on increased subscriber numbers and a higher volume of data traffic, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the project.

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