September 24, 2019
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Sierra Leone’s leading GSM operator, Africell Mobile Company, yesterday announced a partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support the Youth Affairs Ministry for an inclusive review of the National Youth Policy.
The partnership will pave way for young people across the country to contribute actively in the process by giving their suggestions and views on what they want to see in the reviewed policy through a short code.
In his statement, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Joe Abass Bangura, stated that as part of the Memorandum of Understanding, the company will make a kind donation to UNICEF to support the U-Report platform through the removal of charges for all on-net SMS traffic to the platform with an assigned short code; 2080.
He said they are estimating that the project will generate traffic of about 2,000,000 messages per month, adding that they will be sending targeted SMS broadcasts to drive the U-Report registration right throughout the period of the campaign to make sure young people participate in the process.
He noted that their support will ensure that the young people play an integral role in developing the policies that are going to be used in planning and driving their development.
“We have been a leading proponent of all things youth in the country. We have been supporting the government in the areas of sports, education and health, among others. Our continuing expanding business is the source of direct and indirect employment for young people, who make up the bulk of our staff,” he said.
He assured the government to continue to count on them as key partner in the development of the nation, while thanking UNICEF for the privilege to commence a partnership that will extend to other areas of cooperation.
UNICEF Country Representative, Dr. Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim, stated that U-Report Sierra Leone has led the way globally in using SMS to support the people by sharing important information around cholera symptoms and treatment to affected population.
He said the platform will enable as many young people as possible to be involved in the review of the National Youth Policy for Serra Leone.
“We applaud Africell for they have been with us on this journey since the beginning. By signing this agreement today, they again show their commitment to the youth of Sierra Leone that will enable us reach out to even more voices in the country,” he said.
He added that in order to participate in the process, young people can SMS the word JOIN to 2080 on their phone and answer a few questions.
Youth Affairs Minister, Mohamed Orman Bangura welcomed the move by Africell and UNICEF to ensure the full participation of young people in the policy review.
“We want a youth policy that will be inclusive of all youths with their voices in it and a document that is globally recognized. We want every youth leader to be part of this process. We need to recalibrate our minds and be productive,” he said.