By Foday Moriba Conteh
Many have commended Orange Sierra Leone (SL), the country’s leading Telecoms Company, for its worthwhile contributions to the fight against the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).
On the 20 March 2019, Management of the company announced additional measures to ensure that its network and services remain uninterrupted during the current coronavirus outbreak which is affecting much of the world. This move on the part of Orange Sierra Leone comes amidst concerns that the new coronavirus (COVID-19) could affect telecommunications companies and disrupt mobile and internet services.
It also comes in the wake of consensus from global experts that the viability and stability of telecommunications networks is essential in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19.
Chief Executive Officer of Orange Sierra Leone, Aminata Kane Ndiaye, acknowledged that the rapid spread of the coronavirus has led the Orange Sierra Leone team to put in place a multipronged approach that would enable the company to protect its staff and customers, support Government’s ongoing efforts and at the same time continue to provide uninterrupted quality and affordable services to customers across the country.
According to Aminata Kane Ndiaye: “We are a socially and ethically responsible company. It is our duty to do whatever we can to ensure the continuation of telecommunications services, while also taking measures to protect our staff and customers who need service.” She stated further that the measures would ensure the continuation of all of Orange Sierra Leone’s products and services availability including voice, SMS, data communications, SIM cards, scratch cards and Orange Money services.
The company deployed hand washing stations and digital temperature readers at all its major selling points and ensures surfaces are being frequently sanitized. Aminata says that ‘social distancing’ protocols are also being implemented, both at selling points and offices: “We are drastically reducing the number of people who can enter a service delivery point at any one time and customers can queue in good conditions, with chairs and shade, with the necessary distance.”
CEO Aminata Kane Ndiaye nevertheless encouraged customers to use the digital channels such as My Orange mobile application, and Orange Money to manage their services or check their balances. And if customers need to contact the company, they are also encouraged to send a message to Orange Sierra Leone by Facebook Messenger (@orangesl).
David Mansaray, Head of Orange Money, has also encouraged customers to use Orange Money for transactions because of the ease, convenience and security of the service. He stated: “By using Orange Money, our customers are able to purchase goods, voice or data bundles, or pay their bills without having to use cash or even having to leave their homes and go into potentially crowded spaces.”
He added that in order to facilitate the usage of Orange Money, the company has decided to waive all fees on money transfer, merchant payment and bank to wallet (push pull) for 30 days, which might be prolonged if need be.
The Management of Orange also revealed that staff ,who are coming to work will follow the same safety measures as customers and will also practice safe social distancing. “We are monitoring the prevailing situation and will continue to adjust our responses as necessary, but no matter what, our goal will be to ensure uninterrupted quality service,” David Mansaray concluded.
As usual, during epidemics, all business entities in Sierra Leone contribute either financially or materially to the State coffers so that the authorities can adequately respond to the health threat.
By all indications, Orange SL is one of the business entities taking the lead to defeat COVID-19. The company’s contributions stand as a glowing testimony.
Since COVID-19 broke out in China sometime in November, last year, Sierra Leone Government embarked on proactive or preventive measures to forestall a COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
By its commitment to the fight, it is no gainsaying that Orange SL is working hands in glove with the Government to ensure a safe Sierra Leone.
Since information is crucial to the prevention of the virus, Orange SL came up with an information sharing strategy of zero-rating URL links. The strategy works well as it enhances access to messages of Prevention of COVID-19.
Being relentless and poised to see COVID-19 defeated, in March this year, Orange SL donated personal protective equipment to the people of Constituency 112 in the Western Area Rural district which hosts the telecoms company headquarters. The Member of Parliament, Hon. Haja Miatta Amara who represented the constituency in parliament received the items on behalf of her people.
In the same month, the telecoms company also bolstered the effort of Government through the donation of hand washing materials to the people of Constituency 128 in the West End of the capital including Wilberforce, Tengbeh Town and Hill Station.
The donated materials including veronica buckets, hand sanitisers, soap, gloves and other protective gears are meant to be used by residents in the Constituency. The donations were a direct response to requests made by Parliamentarians of the two Constituencies, Hon. Haja Miatta and Hon. Benjamin Turay.
On 2nd April, this year, almost three weeks ago, Orange SL launched the WANPOT package for ease of communication throughout Sierra Leone. The WANPOT package combines prepaid and post-paid features that give customers a monthly bundle of a fixed price with abundant data allowance. The offer has a price tag as low as Le150, 000 so that customers could have abundant voice minutes for local and international calls, data and SMS.
The product targets specifically corporate institutions, businesses and high profiled individuals. The new product, according to Orange SL, proffers solutions to most of the issues that the traditional post-paid service could not solve.
With the new offer, customers can control their flow with the flexibility of recharging as and when necessary or when monthly limit is exhausted at the comfort of one’s home.
On 16th April this year, Orange SL launched free on-line studies for pupils and students in secondary schools and universities. Through it, pupils and students can access teaching and lecturing programmes on-line free of cost.
Under the free on-line studies, schools and colleges can also enjoy free browsing on several learning sites such as the Ministry of Basic and Senior School Education (MBSSE) on-line classroom, Wikipedia, Khan Academy Open2Study and many more.
Pupils and students can also visit http://www.orange.sl/personal/1/101/orange -education-2986.html and other additional links without paying for the services.
The provision of the on-line services is made possible through the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Orange SL and MBSSE to offer zero-rated education portals to schools and colleges country-wide in the COVID-19 period.
The leading telecoms company has also established a healthy and direct relationship with the Ministry of Information and Communications (MOIC) to intensify the campaign against COVID-19.
Also, the company, in collaboration with MOIC, is undertaking an intensive and robust sensitisation on the prevention of the deadly virus. Towards that direction, the company has zero rated the following sites: MOIC-http://www.mic.gov.sl, World Health Organisation-https://www.who.int/ and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention-https://www.cdc.gov./.
With the availability of these facilities, the clientele can get free access to adequate and accurate information on the precautionary measures against COVID-19.
Besides, plans are underway to provide hand washing facilities and digital temperature readers in public places as effective and efficient preventive measures against the virus.
The Corona Virus Disease has become the most tragic in the world’s modern history. Since its outbreak, it has taken a death toll of over 177, 775, Over 2,557,299 cases globally are responding to medical services in treatment centres while others are in quarantine facilities.