Airtel Bangladesh Ltd has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with CARE Bangladesh, Oxfam, Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) and Centre for Global Change (CGC) to help Bangladesh’s coastal fishermen communities to save their lives and livelihoods by using digital telecom technologies.Mr. Chris Tobit, CEO of Airtel Bangladesh Ltd., Mr. Nick Southern, Country Director of CARE Bangladesh, Mr. Gareth Price-Jones, Oxfam’s Country Director in Bangladesh and Mr. Ahsan Uddin Ahmed PhD, Executive Director of CGC, signed the MoU at a simple ceremony held at Airtel’s Head Office at Banani.The primary objective of the joint effort is to save lives of drowning fishermen and to restore livelihoods of poor coastal fishermen. Such fishermen have been severely affected in recent years due to an increase in the frequency of occurrence of rough sea events. Fishermen need to know whether there will be a potential rough sea event in a foreseeable timeframe (for example, in the next 48 hours) any time during the peak fishing season. An advance warning would enable fishermen engaged in deep-sea fishing to avoid being affected, drowned and at risk of losing lives.Airtel will use its newly constructed towers to disseminate voice warnings through digital telecom devices stored in each fishing boat or vessel.CGC, in association with CSRL, will study genesis of each rough sea event and generate warning related information with a target of providing early warnings about 48 hours ahead of the occurrence of each event. Information generated by CGC will be passed on to Airtel lab for direct dissemination at a frequency as preferred by the fishermen communities.In case of an unfortunate capsize of a boat caught in a rough sea event, despite issuance of early warning, Airtel will immediately (i.e., on time) track the position of the drowned boat or vessel and forward the message to concerned government agencies like Bangladesh Navy or Bangladesh Coast Guard. This will help stepping into an envisioned ‘Digital Bangladesh’ as part of the election manifesto of the present Government.On this occasion, CEO of Airtel Bangladesh Ltd Mr. Chris Tobit said, “This is a great opportunity for us to help the fishermen community to lead a safe livelihood and this will in turn help the nation. The fishing sector is a very important part of the economy of Bangladesh. And creating a safe environment for our fishermen brethren is an extension of our brand promise –Bhalobasahar tane, pashe ane”.Country Director of CARE Bangladesh Mr. Nick Southern said: “While Bangladesh is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change; this initiative will be a big milestone for Bangladesh to adapt with the climatic vulnerabilities. He also expressed that learning from this initiative, CARE will explore to scale and replicate the system not only in across the coastal communities of Bangladesh, but also across the coastal communities of the world. CARE will continue its partnership with airtel, CGC and CSRL and will also join hands with other national and international development agencies and institutions to scale such innovative technological solutions to save guard the life and livelihoods of the vulnerable people”.Mr. Gareth Price-Jones, Oxfam’s Country Director in Bangladesh said, “The Potentials of a digital Bangladesh must be opened for the people who are suffering from poverty & vulnerability. This is the only way to make development inclusive & sustainable.”Mr. Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, Executive Director of CGC, believes that advanced telecom technology has high potential to save lives and to enhance livelihood opportunities of poor people of Bangladesh and other LDCs.Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Mr. Abhay Seth, Head of Marketing Mr. Nauman Fakhar, Project leader of Vessel Tracking System Mr. Kazi Abu Syeed, Head of Revenue Planning Mr. M. Mahboob Hossain of Airtel Bangladesh Ltd; Member of Steering Committee Shirin Akhter, Member of Steering Committee Sharmin Neelormi, Member Secretary Ziaul Hoque Mukta of CSRL and Director Program Development Unit of CARE Bangladesh Mr. Selim Reza Hasan were among others present at the signing ceremony.
Airtel Bangladesh ltd. is a concern of Bharti Airtel Limited, a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 19 countries across Asia and Africa. Airtel Bangladesh, which formally started its journey in Bangladesh on December 20, 2010, is making a fresh investment of USD 300 million to rapidly expand its operation in the country. As a result of this investment, the overall investment of the company stands in the region of USD 1 billion. For more information, please visit: www.airtel.com