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Zain, Ericsson and GSMA Continue Efforts to Save Lives by Launching Safety and Security Initiative Across Lake Victoria


Pan-Africa mobile operator Zain, and Ericsson, in an initiative coordinated by the GSM Association, continue their efforts to save lives and bring development across the Lake Victoria region, by extending the mobile network coverage of the three East African States and launching a safety and security initiative. The coverage will comprise the area of the lake where 80 percent of fishing activities take place, allowing communication and SMS exchange to and from phones. This enhancement will fuel economic and social development of the lakeside communities and potentially reduce the number of fishing-related deaths each year.

Ericsson, Zain and the GSMA have worked together to improve safety and security through enhanced mobile coverage. Thanks to the project, the Lake Victoria region now has an additional 21 energy-efficient sites, with three of them solar powered, and a Rescue Coordination Centre has been established. Local stakeholders supporting the project include the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) and its local representative the National Lake Rescue Institute (NLRI).

Lake Victoria is the second largest lake in the world with nearly 200,000 fishermen, 35 million people living along its shores and a fishing fleet of more than 70,000 boats. This armada of boats, powered by paddling or small engines, is operated with poor safety and security due mainly to a lack of available communication systems. Weather conditions can change suddenly and strong winds can occur without much warning, boats are often overloaded, most of the people can’t swim and buoyancy or life saving equipment is not easily available. As a result many lives are lost due to drowning in the lake (estimated 5,000 deaths per year). It is expected that this intervention will go a long way towards improving conditions on the lake.

“Zain is committed to improving the lives of the people in the communities where ever we operate. This is what our brand promise of a wonderful world is all about. The initiative will greatly benefit the communities around Lake Victoria and will substantially improve both the social and economic development in the region; It will offer a foundation for sustainable development in the surrounding communities,” said Chris Gabriel, CEO Zain Africa.

“Mobile communications play an important role in helping communities to develop sustainably,” said Lars Lindén, President Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa. “Building out the mobile networks in this region is a key business interest for Ericsson, but it will also play a vital role in delivering increased safety and security, as well as improved economic viability and livelihoods. Working in partnership has enabled us to achieve what no one of us could have done alone, and if we can reduce, by even one death, of the more than 5000 each year, it will be worth the investment.”

“As the East African community gets connected to undersea cables for the first time, the communities of Lake Victoria can now access a mobile safety net,” said Gabriel Solomon, Senior Vice President GSM Association. “It is now incumbent upon the governments of East Africa to leverage this network by partnering with the private sector and delivering a rainbow of new services.”

The initial Phase of the Lake Victoria Project entailed a feasibility study looking at how the rescue initiative would be undertaken in a commercially sustainable way. Phase II targets the implementation of an operational Search and Rescue facility with a framework to provide the necessary tools to provide valuable services. The GSM network enables voice and data communication on and around Lake Victoria. Zain has developed Value Added Services that will enable fishermen on the lake to, through SMS and voice calls, find critical information such as fish and commodity prices and receive weather and safety alerts. The expanded network will also make it possible to collect data on daily catch from the more than 1,400 Beach Management Units in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

The new network will provide crucial information to enable a vast number of vital services, such as search and rescue, fleet movement and tracking. Ericsson’s Mobile Position System will enable emergency authorities to locate the mobile signal of those in distress on the Lake and send the details to the Rescue Coordination Centre, which will be operated by NLRI.


Notes to editors:

Pictures related to the project can be found at:

About Zain
Zain is a leading emerging markets player in the field of telecommunications aiming to become one of the top ten mobile operators in the world by 2011. Today it is the 4th largest mobile network in the world in terms of geographical footprint with commercial presence in 24 countries spread across the Middle East and Africa providing mobile voice and data services to over 64.7 million active customers as of May 2009.
Zain operates in the following countries: Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Kenya, Kuwait, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In Lebanon, the company manages the network on behalf of the government operating as mtc-touch. In Morocco, Zain in a joint venture owns 31% of Wana Telecom. On May 18, 2009, Zain entered into an agreement with Palestinian operator Paltel to attain a 56.5% stake in the company serving 1.5 million mobile customers.
The company offers innovative services in its markets such as One Network, the world’s first borderless mobile telecommunication network enabling customers to receive calls and sms without charge and to make them at local rates throughout many countries in Africa and the Middle East.
The Zain brand is wholly owned by Mobile Telecommunications Company KSC, which is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (Stock ticker: ZAIN). Zain is listed in the Financial Times’ Global 500 Index which ranks the world’s largest companies based on market capitalization (
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About Ericsson
Ericsson is the world’s leading provider of technology and services to telecom operators. Ericsson is the leader in 2G, 3G and 4G mobile technologies, and provides support for networks with over 1 billion subscribers and has a leading position in managed services. The company’s portfolio comprises of mobile and fixed network infrastructure, telecom services, software, broadband and multimedia solutions for operators, enterprises and the media industry. The Sony Ericsson and ST-Ericsson joint ventures provide consumers with feature-rich personal mobile devices.
Ericsson is advancing its vision of “to be the prime driver in an all-communicating world” through innovation, technology, and sustainable business solutions. Working in 175 countries, more than 75,000 employees generated revenue of SEK 209 billion (USD 32.2 billion) in 2008. Founded in 1876 with the headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, Ericsson is listed on OMX NASDAQ, Stockholm and NASDAQ New York.,,

About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry. Spanning 219 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA is focused on innovating, incubating and creating new opportunities for its membership, all with the end goal of driving the growth of the mobile communications industry.

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