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Telecommunication’s Role in Somalia’s Covid Relief Effort

by Ahmed Mohamed Yusuf & Abdullahi Nur Osman
Sunday May 23, 2021

Hormud Telecom CEO Ahmed M. Yusuf (Ahmed Saudi) and  Hormud Salaama Foundation CEO Abdullahi Nur Osman.

Hormuud Salaam Foundation’s (HSF) mission is to provide local support for local people. From the start, we have developed a unique model of enabling humanitarian projects through resources of Hormuud Telecommunication and Salaam Somali Bank.

When covid-19 hit we increasingly relied on this unique model. We were well positioned to respond to the evolving threat because of our existing humanitarian work and relationship with the government of Somalia. In addition, we were able to lean on Hormuud Telecom’s infrastructure and skilled workforce to facilitate our relief effort. We’re proud of our capability to spring into action when humanitarian disaster strikes. A strength that comes from our local knowledge and connection to our native country.

How we have used our telecoms infrastructure

Hormuud Telecom’s greatest asset is its ability to connect the country, and so we naturally partnered with the Ministry of Health (MoH) coronavirus taskforce to launch a toll-free Covid-19 helpline. The centre’s 10,000 daily callers use the service to enquire about the virus and report potential cases in their communities. No matter where you are in South Central Somalia, dial 449 to reach the toll-free coronavirus helpline.

We also used our telecoms infrastructure to assist the MoH’s coronavirus taskforce by communicating public health messages to help Somalis follow best practices to reduce the spread of covid-19. These life-saving alerts are designed to inform and counter disinformation about the pandemic spread via social media. This awareness campaign reaches over 4 million Hormuud Telecom subscribers daily.

Our joint efforts to supply oxygen

When the second wave hit Somalia in February 2021, Somalis infected with covid-19 were in dire need of oxygen. HSF sourced cylinders from across the country and region to supply Mogadishu hospitals with lifesaving oxygen. Once again, the unique relationship between the two organisations proved invaluable. Hormuud Telecom technicians were even brought into hospitals across the capital to repair damaged oxygen machines.

To ready Somalia for a possible third wave, HSF facilitated the purchase of oxygen plants, providing Somalia with a self-sufficient public supply of oxygen. The plants are expected to be delivered later this month. Indeed, Hormuud Telecom technicians will be on hand to install and maintain the plant.

Helping the most vulnerable through our mobile money platform

In a country like Somalia, where 69% of Somalis live on less than two dollars a day at the global extreme poverty threshold, the financial pain of the pandemic has been acute. Particularly as the pandemic has had a severe impact of the Somali economy due to limited cashflow from overseas. The Somali government even predicted that remittances would fall by up to 40%.

To address this sudden cash-flow dip, HSF has set up multiple direct giving programmes during the pandemic. By relying on Hormuud Telecom’s EVC Plus platform as a channel to transfer money, we had the infrastructure and ability needed to make a real impact.

Through this we have given funds to vulnerable families, hugely impacting their quality of life. We also used EVC Plus to establish a micro-fund honouring the heroes of this pandemic — Somalia’s health care professionals. Hormuud Telecom has awarded US$31,150 to nearly 200 local medical personnel to thank them for their sacrifice and vital work. We’re very proud of both these projects.

HSF is also donating a dollar-a-day throughout the month of Ramadan to 5,000 people in extreme need, again through EVC Plus. To qualify for the programme, recipients must have $20 or less in their mobile money accounts, which have been activated for at least three months. On the first day alone, 15,000 people signed up to receive the daily contribution, symbolling how need has grown over the pandemic. This is the second year the programme is running.

Hormuud Telecom connects Somalis to one another, and the world. Our work through HSF connects us to our customers and the Somali people. We are immensely proud to have built a Somali Foundation capable of answering the needs of our people, supported by the infrastructure we have built from the ground up.

Ahmed Mohamed Yusuf is the CEO of Hormuud Telecom & Abdullahi Nur Osman is the CEO of  Hormuud Salaam Foundation.


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