Palestinian mobile network operator Jawwal signs the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter
We are happy to welcome Jawwal as the latest mobile network operator to join the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter. In this guest blog, Jawwal outline the crucial role they play in Palestine, ensuring their customers are connected to mobile services and communities are supported in times of crises.
Since its inception in 1999 (as one PALTEL Group Companies) and despite continuing political and economic instability, Jawwal has established itself as Palestine’s leading mobile network operator, serving more than 2.9 million subscribers to date.
In Jawwal we strongly believe in serving our community. In addition to paying high attention to providing competitive and high quality services to our customers, we also work tirelessly to ensure our emergency response mechanisms are as resilient and effective as possible. In challenging contexts, such as ours in Palestine, mobile services are essential and can be a lifeline during humanitarian disasters.
Palestine has faced many disasters in recent years, and Jawwal has consistently managed to serve its customers and community with critical mobile services, complementing the work of the humanitarian sector in supporting people in crisis. Examples of such humanitarian crises during Jawwal’s years of operation include Gaza Wars in 2012 and 2014, flooding in Gaza in January 2015 and snow storms in the West Bank in December 2013.
We have made specific adaptations to our infrastructure to ensure minimal disruption to our network during such events. For example, in Gaza a high level of redundancy is built into the network with core nodes connected with three different fiber routes, ensuring that if one is destroyed the others can be automatically reconfigured. Jawwal has also built instant sites and Cells on wheels (COWs) to recover services. During floods in 2013, we provided boats as well as distributing food and blankets to affected populations, particularly targeting the needs of children.
Providing our customers with a consistent service is central to our business, so during past disasters we have ensured that all customers are able to make calls regardless of their balance or type of account. Further, Jawwal offer data services (2G) to all customers in affected areas.
Jawwal also contributes significantly to social responsibility initiatives for the community with a variety of innovative community serving projects. Jawwal has spearheaded programmes that aim to develop the community by enhancing peoples’ skills to improve their employment prospects and income generating ability. Jawwal also supports programmes that focus on education, funding PHD students at international universities and leading a scholarship program for undergraduates at Palestinian universities in the West Bank and Gaza in sectors where there is high demand for skilled workers locally, such as medicine, IT and engineering. Furthermore, through Abjad Net, Jawwal has connected over 1,800 schools to high speed internet. Jawwal also supports programmes that focus specifically on women, children, agriculture and technology.
In 2017 Jawwal will create a dedicated Business Continuity Department to operate Business Continuity Management (BCM) functions; maintaining plans, monitoring performance and conducting periodic resiliency tests.
By joining the GSMA Disaster Response Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, Jawwal will seek to strengthen preparedness and collaboration within the mobile industry, improve interactions and collaboration with stakeholders from the humanitarian sector and essentially drive our disaster response activities to the next level of enhancement and improvement.
The Humanitarian Connectivity Charter was launched in March 2015 by GSMA. The Charter is formed by a set of principles which focus on enhancing coordination, scaling and standardizing responses and on strengthening partnerships. The ultimate aim of the Charter is to strengthen access to communication and information for those affected by crisis in order to reduce loss of life and positively contribute to humanitarian response.
As highlighted in this blog, Jawwal is faced with a unique set of challenges due to the political and economic instability in Palestine. A number of other countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have suffered considerable political upheaval over the last decade, with ongoing disputes leading to mass migration as civilians flee conflict zones.
In October 2016, the Disaster Response programme convened Jawwal and other MNOs operating in the MENA region, alongside the humanitarian sector in Jordan, to understand the multitude of ways in which these organisations are using mobile technology to allay some of the unique challenges in the region.
To find out more about the MENA region’s disaster risk landscape, mobile market context, and examples of innovative solutions being developed by the industry to prepare and respond to disasters, read GSMAi’s latest report.
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