South Sudan refugees in Palabek Refugee Settlement are celebrating the improvement of mobile telephone services in the camp. The celebration started after Airtel Uganda installed a 7.5-meter-high tower in the heart of the settlement that is home to more than 32,000 refugees.
Robert Ocan, the chairperson of South Sudan refugees in Lamwo Refugee settlement in Palabek Ogili Sub County, said mobile telephone services have dramatically improved since the mast was commissioned on Friday last week.
Ocan says more than half of the population of the settlement own mobile phones and can now make calls from the settlement and other locations around the settlement with minimal interruptions.
Ocan says having telecommunication infrastructure in the settlement is critical for refugees to trace their loved ones who remain separated by the conflict as well as undertake mobile money transfers.
The Settlement is the 22nd major refugee settlement to get reliable telecommunication infrastructure in Uganda. The remote locations of the several settlements in the country previously made it extremely difficult to make or receive phone calls.
Godfrey Byaruhanga, the Refugee Response Field Coordinator in the Office of the Prime Minister, says communication is a vital tool in refugee protection. He says some refugee settlements still have inadequate telecommunication infrastructure in the West Nile region.
While commissioning the tower, Nyombi Thembo, the Director of Rural Communication Development Fund under Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) said the infrastructure is a major milestone in achieving universal access to telecommunication services in all corners of the country.
Nyombi said he is excited that airtel Uganda is leading the way in connecting Uganda to 4G LTE networks from the current 3G.
V.G Somasekhar, the Managing Director Airtel Uganda said with the new telecommunication infrastructure, the Northern region now enjoys one of the best broadband services.
According to Somasekhar, telecommunication connectivity to northern Uganda has significantly been boosted by Facebook Broadband Connectivity.
Last week, government launched the broadband policy, which prioritizes universal connectivity to Information Communication Technology (ICT).