By Amin Kef Sesay
Africell-SL, has been at the forefront, with certain stakeholders, in efforts being made to scale up the fight against COVID-19 since the virus reared its ugly head in this part of the globe.
However, before coming into the nitty-gritty of the telecommunications company has made inroads in the dogged fight it must be underscored that the company has so far bagged accolades from various quarters, for being the leading telecommunications company in the country.
Occupying this enviable position came as a result of the company’s improved network, enhanced voice calls, cheaper data bundles, fastest internet connectivity, wide coverage and a host of other promotions that had all and still positively impacting the Sierra Leonean economy and the lives of individuals not necessarily only its numerous subscribers but the bulk majority of Sierra Leoneans in general.
To the utmost satisfaction of many, the company has been rolling out good initiatives which are all meaningfully contributing towards bringing cheaper telecommunications services and packages to the doorsteps of the vast majority giving utmost satisfaction.
Proudly, Africell is at the forefront of introducing the 3G++ and 4G in the country making it possible for its subscribers to get effective internet connectivity as well as enabling richer communication through video calls and the added advantage of mobility to the power of the internet.
When it was evident that the corona virus has entered the country and has started claiming lives, the company decided to join the fight against the new enemy. It was welcoming to know that a trusted partner in development, Africell, was now supporting and complementing Government’s effort in that direction.
Africell saw the need to come on board in order to do the needful in helping to sensitize the populace about the virus and the preventive measures that should be strictly adhered to avoid coming in contact with it.
Taking into cognisance the fact that it is highly significant to be constantly educating people about how the virus is having a heavy toll on human life as well as national economies, sensitizing people about the “dos” and “don’ts” could not come at any other appropriate time than when Africell joined the fray. In that direction the company has been doing extremely well.
On 17 April 2020, Africell SL CEO, Shadi Gerjawi, talked about the strides that Africell has been taking to enhance awareness and putting preventive measures in place. He dilated on keeping their staff, customers, communities and country safe during the fight against COVID-19. According to him, “Africell Cares and Together we can Break the Chain & Stop the Spread of COVID-19.”
Africell-SL donated Le 1,000,000,000 (One Billion Leones) to the EOC, NACOVERC and NACCED through the Ministry of Information and Communications to support the Government of Sierra Leone in the fight against COVID-19.
Speaking on behalf of the company, the Chief Executive Officer, Shadi Gerjawi, extended his sympathy to all those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and applauded the zeal and resilience with which Sierra Leoneans have adjusted to these trying times.
He reiterated the company’s previous donations made to the Ministry, their e-learning service to the University of Sierra Leone, and various sensitization programmes on the company’s Social Media platforms and #AfriRadioSL (as well as other radio stations) to aid the general public.
It must be reiterated that in order to demonstrate its willingness to throw its weight to the fight against one of the deadly viruses that has plagued mankind, Africell Mobile Company on the 30th March 2020 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Sierra Leone which encompassed the provision of mobile connectivity to staff and students of the learning institution in order to enable them gain access and use the University of Sierra Leone web portal in a reliable and cost-effective way.
Through such a means students and other users could use the web portal to make payments to the University of Sierra Leone administrative accounts using Afrimoney.
Not stopping there the company went the extra-mile to offer free SMS services to mobile devices through which all SIM cards were installed with a Toll Free Short Code 5505 for the University.
With those laudable gestures, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, Foday Sahr, expressed appreciation stating that the move was not only timely but will serve as an accelerator for plans that the entity has to move smoothly into the digital age.
On the 3rd April 2020, the Africell-Family, led by the company’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Joe Abass Bangura and supported by the telecommunications entity’s Media Manager, John Konteh, donated to the Government of Sierra Leone through the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) 350 KaiOs smartphones with Close User Group (CUG) SIM Cards.
Present during the presentation were the Interim Coordinator of the COVID- 19 Response Team, Retired Brigadier Kellie Hassan Conteh and the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mamadi Gobeh Kamara both of whom expressed gratitude for the speedy and timely response to their request for assistance in attempts made to combat the spread of the corona virus.
During the occasion, Africell’s Joe Abass Bangura reiterated that Africell is committed to the people of Sierra Leone in joining the fight against COVID-19 and also implored everyone to adhere to all the safety practices.
The Africell team also made a stop at Constituency 128 and donated Veronica Buckets and cartons of hand-washing soaps to the Member of Parliament meant for use by the constituents in the community.
The company made it possible also for subscribers to transfer money for FREE To & From their Sierra Leone Commercial Bank accounts and AfriMoney Wallet.
Still within the context of trying to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the Africell-Family presented 20 KaiOs phones to the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and the Independent Radio Network as a boost to support the two entities in their strides to disseminate messages relating to the corona virus fight. The presentation was done by the company’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Joe Abass Bangura and was assisted by the Media Relations Manager, John Konteh.
Expressing gratitude were the President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla and the Station Manager of Radio Democracy, Asmaa James both describing Africell as a dependable partner that is always ready to step in with much needed support at the right time. It is worthy to note that the phones came in with complimentary voice and data packages which helped greatly to augment and ramp up coordination and responses during the SLAJ/IRN Corona updates broadcast.
The donations were greatly applauded by the Government of Sierra Leone especially at a time when it was greatly needed in the fight against the corona virus.
Management of Africell also made series of donations to the health sector geared towards improving service delivery and the wellbeing of all Sierra Leoneans.
Despite the current economic situation in the country, Africell Mobile Company has been supporting the less privileged in society with food items.
From time to time, Africell comes out with different promotional programs or platforms that afford its subscribers to win attractive prices which have greatly contributed in reducing the poverty rate across the country. It is therefore not surprising that Africell continues to woo so many individuals and today the Company stands as one of the fast growing multinational institutions operating in the country with a wide subscriber base.
To demonstrate that it is really committed to avail the citizenry of this country improved telecommunications services and as well cover hard to reach communities, Africell has rigorously embarked on the installation of new sites, upgrading its infrastructure and currently earnest work is ongoing in different parts of the provinces.
The various contributions that Africell have made to society have significantly resulted into a positive change in the lives of many Sierra Leoneans; over and above the provision of excellent mobile telecommunication services. Africell has made it a point of duty to contribute to the development of various sectors through their corporate social responsibility.
These kind gestures on the part of Africell, especially in joining the fight against COVID-19 have been widely commended and truly revealed that the company is committed to stand by the Government and People of this country.