Mobile phone firms join AU to battle ebola


Mobile phone networks in Africa are partnering with the African Union Commission to support the fight against Ebola that has killed over 7000 lives in some West African countries.

MNT Zambia and Airtel Zambia have both joined the rest of Africa in the initiative operating under the hashtag #AfricaAgainstEbola to create awareness and raise funds towards efforts to assist health workers control and eradicate the disease from the continent.

Joint media statement issued by MTN Zambia corporate services communications and corporate social investment specialist Eugene Phiri and Airtel Zambia head– corporate communications and government relations, Yuyo Kambikambi, said the platform was dedicated to raise funds for the deployment of African health workers to the affected countries.

“Airtel Networks Zambia Plc. and MTN Zambia today invited their customers across the country to join hands with the two companies in a campaign to raise funds for a “United Against Ebola” initiative.

As MTN, we believe the only way to start reversing the devastating effects of the outbreak is to come together to tackle the spread of the disease, and ease the suffering it continues to inflict on families and communities,” the statement read.

MTN Zambia chief executive officer Abdul Ismail explained that the MTN Group President and CEO Sifiso Dabengwa declared support towards the combating of the Ebola epidemic and saving lives.

“At Group level, MTN is also working with some of Africa’s most celebrated musicians to produce an inspirational song for digital download on its MTN Play store.

All proceeds from sales, post publishing rights and subscription payments, will be donated to the AU campaign,” Mr Ishmail said.

He said the “yellow family” was pleased to enter into the partnership with Airtel Networks Zambia Plc and other mobile operators across Africa for humanitarian cause.

And Airtel managing director Charity Lumpa said the high number of deaths across West Africa should be enough to bring together stakeholders since the disease was first reported in Guinea in March 2014 and that the collaboration of mobile service providers was a milestone.

“The SMS fundraising campaign will use the short code 7979 across the continent with local adaptations where technology requires. Customers are asked to text ‘Stop Ebola’ to this code in order to donate in their respective countries,” Ms. Lumpa said.

And AU Commission chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has welcomed the collaboration initiated by the service providers towards the Ebola fight.

“We are conscious of the urgent need for all of us to do more, and to act faster. Only by acting together can we ensure that our continent and world is free of Ebola. We therefore repeat our call to all Africans to lead the global efforts of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea,” she said.

The African Union is fighting the Ebola outbreak under its African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) mission, which has so far deployed 90 health workers to the three affected countries.