Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), the world's leading telecommunications supplier, today announced it would partner with the GSMA Development Fund, MTN Uganda, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide connectivity to refugee camps in Adjumani, northern Uganda. The initiative will address the urgent need for access to affordable communication for refugees.


The Refugee Connectivity Project is designed to demonstrate that access to voice and data communications can be carried out in an affordable and sustainable way in refugee camps and settlements. By establishing a model of sustainability, the project will be able to grow rapidly and be introduced into new refugee territories to support family reunification, education, health care, economic empowerment and other urgent refugee concerns.  


The GSMA Development Fund in partnership with Ericsson, the UNHCR and MTN Uganda will pilot the introduction of mobile connectivity into refugee camps and settlements.


Carl-Henric Svanberg, President and CEO of Ericsson, says: "Our commitment to the Refugee Connectivity pilot is in line with our vision to be the prime driver in an all-communicating world. This project will allow us to apply our core technology to connect some of those in greatest need, and we hope that mobile connectivity will also stimulate local business development in the area."


António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, says: "I commend the work of Ericsson to bring much needed mobile communications to refugee settlements. The UNHCR's primary purpose is to protect the rights and well-being of refugees, and connectivity not only allows refugees to connect with families and communities at home, but it also enables entrepreneurialism, drives education and provides opportunity and hope for the future."


Rob Conway, CEO of the GSMA, says: "Information is a basic human need and it is vital that we do everything we can to help refugees fulfill that need. Mobile networks are the only economically viable way to connect refugee camps to the outside world and provide their occupants with the means to communicate with their relatives, access health information, run a business and, above all, educate their children."


Ericsson will support the pilot by extending networks into previously unconnected areas or by upgrading existing GSM networks to provide voice and data capabilities. This will include the required technical solution, alternative power sources as appropriate, as well as the development of possible mobile applications and the provision of phones, in cooperation with Sony Ericsson.


Miles Flint, President of Sony Ericsson, says: "Sony Ericsson is happy and proud to support and simplify the life of refugees and refugee workers who rely on mobile phones as their only means of communications in harsh and difficult circumstances."


Mobile communication will allow both refugees and humanitarian organizations to connect children and families who have been separated, ensure the delivery of quality education and e-learning, and provision of real-time health information including data on disease outbreaks, patient records and drug supplies.

Provision of real-time data on refugee management, including effective distribution of food, stimulation of employment, and income generation for refugees by enabling entrepreneurship, are some additional benefits of the project.  

Noel Meier, CEO of MTN Uganda, says: "MTN is delighted to support this pioneering initiative that highlights how GSM communications can be used to improve the quality of life for some of the most marginalized communities within the African continent."

Ericsson is shaping the future of Mobile and Broadband Internet communications through its continuous technology leadership. Providing innovative solutions in more than 140 countries, Ericsson is helping to create the most powerful communication companies in the world.

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About the GSMA and Development Fund
The GSMA (The GSM Association) is the global trade association representing more than 700 GSM mobile phone operators across 218 countries and territories of the world. In addition, more than 200 manufacturers and suppliers support the Association's initiatives as key partners.

The GSMA's Development Fund was set up in October 2005 to provide consulting support to innovative pilot projects that use mobile technology to boost social, economic and environmental welfare in developing countries. Working together with mobile operators, the Fund supports easily-replicable and sustainable projects that have the potential to be widely-deployed. For more information please visit: http://www.gsmworld.com/digitaldivide/developmentfund/index.shtml