Africell Team up with UNICEF

Africell Team up with UNICEF

Africell and UNICEF on Monday 23rd September, 2019 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to utilize mobile technology platform, U-Report to support the on-going review of the National Youth Policy.

Over the next two years, Africell will make an in-kind donation of removing any charges for all on-net SMS traffic on the 2080 U-Report short-code. This is a build up from the earlier support of reduced rate for bulk SMS messaging for the U-Report platform.

The Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Bangura, who witnessed the signing welcomed the use of U-Report to provide a desirable connection with youths and create an enabling environment for more young people to have a voice in the consultation process of reviewing the policy.

“The introduction of the U-Report platform to review the National Youth Policy will ensure that more young people get the opportunity to provide their insights, aspirations and priorities to shape the youth agenda in Sierra Leone,” said Mohamed Bangura.

The U-Report is a ground-breaking, social messaging tool that enables and empowers people, particularly youths, to speak out and provide their perspectives on a wide range of important issues in their communities.

Regular polls and alerts are used to collect real-time responses from an active base of U-Reporters from across the country. More than 145,000 people – mostly youths – are currently registered on the platform and actively participating in communicating challenges and being part of solutions in their communities.

“Since 2014, U-Report has become an innovative and strategic way for UNICEF to engage and solicit the voice of people in finding sustainable solutions for children and young people demonstrating measurable outcomes for UNICEF programming and youth beneficiaries,” said Dr. Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim, UNICEF Representative.

Thanks to the rapid growth of cell phone connectivity and the availability of mobile phone devices, many young people in Sierra Leone can now easily communicate and network without geographic boundary restrictions.

This new in-kind contribution from Africell will help in the scale-up of U-Report by amplifying the voices of many and reaching more people including marginalised groups and vulnerable communities. “Africell regards this investment as a strategic contribution to building a healthy, informed and productive generation, which will contribute to economic growth and social inclusion.” said Africell Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Shadi Al-Gerjawi.

Young people are encouraged to actively participate in the review of the National Youth Policy by signing up to U-Report through texting the word “JOIN” to 2080. It’s free to join and participate in the platform providing an important opportunity for young people to inform and shape discussions on a new youth policy for Sierra Leone.

In his speech, Africell Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Joe Abass Bangura said among other things that the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is on the basis both organisations support to the Ministry of Youth Affairs that will enable the inclusive development of a National Youth Policy in Sierra Leone by engaging the youth who will act as reporters (U-Reporters) on the issues that will be considered in the development of the policy.

He said the youth population represents the biggest demography in the country and that to adequately plan for the full development and deployment of their potentials, would first of all require the development of the appropriate policies. This project could thus not have come at a more opportune time, he said.

He informed his audience that as part of the MoU, Africell will make an in-kind donation to UNICEF to support the U-Report platform through the removal of charges for all on-net SMS traffic to the platform through the assigned short code, 2080. It is estimated that the project will generate a traffic of 2,000,000 per month.

In addition, Africell will be sending targeted SMS broadcasts to drive the U-Report registration right through the period of the campaign

This will ensure that the young people play an integral role in developing the policies that are going to be used in planning and driving their development.

He maintained that Africell has been a leading proponent of all things youth in the country; supporting the government in the area of Sports, Education, Health etc.

‘Our continuing expanding business is the source of direct and indirect employment for young people who make up the bulk of our staff, outsourced business support service providers, recharge sellers and Mobile money Agents,’ he added.

Government, he went on can continue to count on Africell as a key partner in the development of our nation.

‘On behalf of the Management and staff of Africell, I wish to commend MOYA for this bold and innovative initiative; making full use to technology to ensure that no youth is left behind in this exercise. We also thank the leadership of the UNICEF country office in Sierra Leone for this privilege to commence a partnership that we expect will extend to other areas of cooperation,’ Joe Abass Bangura told his audience.

Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Bangura, who witnessed the signing, welcomed the use of U-Report to provide a desirable connection with youths and create an enabling environment for more young people to have a voice in the consultation process of reviewing the policy. 

“The introduction of the U-Report platform to review the National Youth Policy will ensure that more young people get the opportunity to provide their insights, aspirations and priorities to shape the youth agenda in Sierra Leone,” said Hon. Mohamed Bangura. 

He noted that with the rapid growth of cell phone connectivity and the availability of mobile phone devices, many young people in Sierra Leone can now easily communicate and network without geographic boundary restrictions. 

He said that this new in-kind contribution from Africell will help in the scale-up of U-Report by amplifying the voices of many and reaching more people including marginalized groups and vulnerable communities.

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