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Telecoms charity calls on MEA operators for aid

Télécoms Sans Frontières asks operators of the Middle East and Africa for funds to help establish a base in the region.

Telecoms charity calls on MEA operators for aid
A group of Pakistani men use TSF’s satellite phones during the NGO’s last mission in the country in June this year.

The founder of a charity that specialises in providing communications in emergency situations has called on telecom operators of the Middle East and Africa for assistance as it looks to establish a base in the region.

France-based Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) provides communications for other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and telephone calls for the victims of natural disasters and conflicts around the world.

“We would like to have a base in Africa,” Jean-François Cazenave, one of the founders of TSF, told CommsMEA. “We are thinking of setting up a base in Burkina Faso, or perhaps in a country in the Middle East, such as Lebanon. That would give us a good strategic position. We need also to have funds from partners who are located there,” he said.

Aside from its French HQ, TSF currently has two other permanent bases, one in Nicaragua and another in Thailand and it wants to establish a presence in the Middle East or Africa so it can respond more quickly to any emergency situations that occur in the region.

“Our objective is to arrive at an emergency in 24 hours, and that means that we need a regional base, and more regional bases would permit us to arrive in less than 24 hours. If we have one in Africa or one in Middle East it will be a good opportunity for TSF and for the victims and NGOs who are there,” Cazenave said.

When TSF arrives in one of the world’s trouble spots, its priority is to establish a satellite connection to provide relief workers with communications, helping them to establish a field office with computers and printers. After that, the NGO provides satellite lines for people to call their family to reassure them they are ok, or to ask for money, Cazenave said.

A spokeswoman for TSF said that funding mainly comes from institutions such as the European Commission, the UN Foundation and Vodafone Group’s Foundation, as well as through corporate partnerships with telecom and satellite companies including Inmarsat, Eutelsat, PCCW Global, AT&T, Cable & Wireless and Vizada.

She said: “The main support that we need from telecom companies is funding, and we also can use their equipment. We would also like to have a computer equipment supplier, because we work a lot with IT, providing computers in countries for relief workers.

“The more funding we have, the better we can work and we can save lives on the ground. The funds are needed to be able to respond more quickly and independently to emergencies and to implement development projects,” she added.

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