Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mobile Initiative for East Africa's Lake Victoria

Zain, and Ericsson, in an initiative coordinated by the GSM Association, have kicked off an effort to improve public security and bring development across the Lake Victoria region by extending the mobile network coverage. This initiative is expected to fuel economic and social development of the lakeside communities and potentially reduce the number of fishing-related deaths each year.

The expanded mobile coverage will comprise the area of the lake where 80 percent of fishing activities take place, allowing communication and SMS exchange to and from phones. Thanks to the project, the Lake Victoria region now has an additional 21 energy-efficient sites, with three of them solar powered. A Rescue Coordination Centre has been established. Local stakeholders supporting the project include the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) and its local representative the National Lake Rescue Institute (NLRI).

Lake Victoria is the second largest lake in the world with nearly 200,000 fishermen, 35 million people living along its shores and a fishing fleet of more than 70,000 boats.

"As the East African community gets connected to undersea cables for the first time, the communities of Lake Victoria can now access a mobile safety net," said Gabriel Solomon, Senior Vice President GSM Association. "It is now incumbent upon the governments of East Africa to leverage this network by partnering with the private sector and delivering a rainbow of new services."

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