Somalia: Telcos critical to taming COVID-19 spread- Hormuud Telecom CEO Ahmed Yusuf

Telecommunication companies play an integral role in countering COVID-19 spread through delivery of accurate public information, fighting disinformation and supporting governments in contact tracing, the head of Somalia’s largest telco has said.

Hormuud Telecom CEO Ahmed Mohamud Yusuf said in an interview with HOL his company was in the frontline working with Somali government and humanitarian organisations in tackling the spread of COVID-19 noting only through collaborative efforts can the pandemic be defeated.

“The ability to deliver accurate public health information to large populations as well as the ability to counter misinformation—has only been made possible by mobile networks,” said Yusuf.

He added mobile networks are instrumental in tracking and tracing the spread of the pandemic, and even the consultation process with medical professionals will rest on mobile phone communication.

“At Hormuud, we have taken the necessary steps to provide free public hotlines to the Ministry of Health, and created voicemail messages that can bring public health announcements to those among us who cannot read,” said Yusuf.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE

The number of COVID-19 cases in Somalia has risen to over 2000 since the first case was detected in mid-March with over 70 fatalities so far.

The UN warned Tuesday Somalia’s ability to cope with the triple threats of COVID-19, desert locust invasion and floods was now overstretched and risks eroding gains made thus far in the country’s recovery process.

Noting that Somalia faced an ‘uncertain future’ owing to the pandemic, the Hormuud boss said many years of conflict have left public institutions and public health systems vulnerable but said Somalia can now take advantage of mobile connectivity to circumvent social distancing restrictions and use of cash for transactions.

“For Somalians, telecoms are already an essential public service and we are conscious of our responsibility to them as their provider,” said Yusuf.

“While we do not hold all the answers, we are in a unique position to understand the role that telecoms will play in this crisis and feel an obligation to let the world know.”

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