As the COVID-19 situation develops, it is clear that the sub-Saharan African region will likely face similar public health challenges to those seen elsewhere. To deal with the crisis, African governments – including those with whom we partner – are implementing comprehensive responses which are likely to alter the daily lives of millions of people, including Africell employees and customers.
For many Africell employees, especially those in Sierra Leone, this is not the first time our lives have been impacted by a public health emergency. As we saw in 2014-16, we can overcome any challenge if we work together with discipline and coordination. Based on the experiences gained during the Ebola period, and considering the latest guidelines from the World Health Organisation, we are implementing numerous company-wide measures to protect the welfare of our employees and to ensure continued service at a time when reliable
and high quality telecommunications have never been more essential.
I would like to explain some of the measures we are focusing on and to re-assure you that we are doing everything possible to prepare for all eventualities.
First and most important, health and well-being is the top priority. Across each country in which Africell operates, we have launched immediate policies which reflect international best practice, including:
- Enhanced hygiene and sanitation to ensure the cleanest possible working environment, especially in the areas of our business which must remain staffed at all times
- Enforced limitations on the number of people within confined spaces, such as offices or shops, at a single time
- A work-from-home policy applicable to many colleagues. We will continue to evaluate the operations and the use of technology to enhance our capabilities whilst a large number of us are working from home
- Mandatory temperature tests for all visitors to our premises
These policies are intended to safeguard our staff and customers – as well as their families, friends, neighbours and other community members – against exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Second, we are exploring broader practical changes to the way we conduct our operations which, we believe, will help keep our customers and our communities safe during the crisis. Amongst other strategies, we have:
- Dramatically increased our customer communication to focus on public health awareness messages to ensure they are as informed as possible
- Supported our host governments to procure and distribute essential medical supplies
- Established new distribution channels including door-to-door sales to allow continued access to telecommunications products for our customers
- Significantly invested in the capacity of our networks to ensure continued quality in a period of rapidly increasing voice and data traffic
- Embarked on a variety of promotional activities to support customers
Our experience suggests that times like these demand a coordinated collective effort to ensure that we support our communities and partner governments to the maximum. It is vital that we maintain the discipline of our operating systems in this fast-changing environment. If anyone in the organisation has any suggestions as to how we can adapt, develop and improve our response then please contact your supervisors or any of the senior management. Your management teams are in close coordination with the relevant authorities and any suggestions or solutions are welcome.
Finally, I would like to remind you of the essential role companies like ours have to play in a time of crisis. In a period where entire communities are facing increased isolation, modern, advanced telecommunications services allow the continuation of social, educational, medical, commercial and other forms of interaction. We have a unique responsibility to continue to deliver critical services and information to our communities, both during the crisis and in the subsequent recovery. With the contribution of Africell, the communities we serve will come through this challenging period stronger and more resilient.
I want to finish by thanking you. Africell has never been better placed to deal with a crisis: we are better governed, better managed, better equipped and better funded than at any point in almost 20 years of operation. The character and resourcefulness of our people have always been the key to our success and will once again see us through this era of uncertainty.
Please look after yourselves and your families. And please stay safe.