Avanti Communications to work with UNHCR to provide satellite internet access across refugee camps in East Africa
Geneva, Switzerland, 18th December 2019
Avanti Communications has announced a new initiative at the first ever Global Refugee Forum that will provide refugees and host communities in Uganda with solar powered satellite broadband connectivity. Working directly with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Avanti’s expertise will directly support access to information, humanitarian and livelihood services within refugee settlements.
Avanti is donating connectivity and hardware to UNHCR sites in Uganda as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This project supports the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees, a UNHCR framework introduced to improve the international response to new and existing refugee situations. The connectivity will help UNHCR bridge the digital divide, increasing refugee self-reliance through access to information and livelihood services, working to ease the strain on host countries and communities.
The collaboration will see high-speed internet access introduced across some of the most remote areas of East Africa. Seven UNHCR sites in refugee settlements in northern Uganda, predominantly hosting displaced populations from conflicts in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, will receive satellite broadband connectivity, laptops and maintenance of all equipment for 12 months.
“This is a big step for Avanti in terms of our commitment to Africa and the opportunity we can provide the developing regions in our network. Given the magnitude of refugees living across Africa, our work with UNHCR will allow us to increase our efforts in connecting the world, enabling people to build themselves a better future’, says Avanti Communications CEO, Kyle Whitehill.
“This pledge demonstrates the real impact that telecommunications expertise can have in humanitarian situations. Avanti’s commitment will help us connect refugees in some of the most challenging environments we operate in. Avanti’s support will also open up new opportunities for refugees through livelihoods training, a crucial step as they recover and rebuild their self-reliance after fleeing conflict,” added UNHCR’s Head of UK Private Sector Partnerships, Hyeon Gyeong Cho.
This project will connect UNHCR Protection Units, multi-purpose technology centres and community centres, with a focus on young adults receiving access to information, advice and protection services, ICT skills training and income generating facilities. Avanti hopes this support will ease the pressure on refugee host countries and enhance community-led initiatives across East Africa.
The project will begin in early 2020. Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in northern Uganda is one of the largest in the world hosting over 270,000 people, Avanti will be providing two installations in this settlement and a further five in the region will be connected throughout the year. In July 2019, in partnership with the Social Innovation Academy, Bidi Bidi settlement received the first of the total three installations from Avanti, increasing internet access for refugees and the host community there.
“Avanti is proud to be partnering with UNHCR to provide digital opportunities for displaced people in East Africa living in the remotest of locations. This project will enable refugees to access tools to increase self-reliance and rebuild livelihoods, in addition to reconnecting people with their loved ones online.” said Avanti’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Lucy Murtagh.
The connectivity donations made by Avanti will help UNHCR to continue their work and support across East Africa in the remotest of locations.