something we can do for Cote d'Ivoire
Like many of you, I've been feeling very helpless about the situation in Cote d'Ivoire. Then I saw @SenamBeheton's tweet:
This is a fantastic idea, and one where ordinary people around the world can get involved. Many Ivoirians, especially those in Abidjan, have been afraid to leave their homes for a few days now, and most shops in the city are closed, meaning that people can't buy top up cards for their mobile phones. Also, many Ivoirians haven't been able to work for several days, meaning that even if they could find top up cards, they wouldn't be able to afford them. Orange, MTN, and Moov could provide a huge public service (and get lots of positive publicity) by opening up their networks to allow free SMSing during this crisis. I would gladly donate to a fund to help cover the costs of doing so - and I bet I'm not the only one.
Here's information on how to contact the corporate offices of Orange, MTN, and Moov. I'm using corporate offices at the highest level because it may be hard to reach the offices in Cote d'Ivoire right now. If you have any other suggestions, please note them in the comments below.
- Orange is part of France Telecom. Contact their Corporate Social Responsibility office by filling out the form here.
- MTN Group is based in South Africa and only provides phone numbers and physical addresses. This is why Skype exists; spend the 20 cents and call them on +27 11 912 3000 or +27 11 912 4123.
- Moov is based in the UAE and its operations are under the Etisalat trade name. Fill out their online feedback form here.
I am writing/calling to ask that [Company Name] provide free SMS services to customers in Cote d'Ivoire during the country's ongoing crisis. Due to violence in Abidjan and in rural areas, customers are unable to top up their mobile phone accounts and have lost touch with family members. They cannot share information about where violence is occurring, or reach out for help from the United Nations and humanitarian agencies. By providing free SMS services, [Company Name] would almost certainly save lives. Please take this opportunity to help the people of Cote d'Ivoire in their time of need.Let's do this, guys. We can spread the word and bring pressure on these companies to provide this service. It won't stop the Ivoirian crisis, but it will provide a critical service for those who need it most.
UPDATE: A couple of commenters point out that SMS services have been turned off in Cote d'Ivoire for several weeks per Gbagbo's orders. I don't see any reason that the phone companies could not override that order, but perhaps I'm wrong. At any rate, asking for free airtime and for the companies to do all they can to get the SMS networks running is also worth our while.