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A sense of purpose: Being in an essential industry

22 May, 2020 - Yangon

The past weeks have demonstrated with full force how essential telecommunications is. I’m proud to be part of an industry fueling modern life and enabling a safe path through this pandemic. It gives purpose.

We are all reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis, which has affected millions of people worldwide, is one of the toughest challenges many of us have had to face. It hits us on a personal level: anyone anywhere can fall sick or suffer the consequences of this health and economic crisis.

All of us bear a responsibility to help and to contribute. Whether it’s by staying home and upholding strict public health rules, or whether it’s keeping the wheels of society running.
As a provider of an essential services, we at Telenor feel this responsibility. Ensuring continuous access to affordable, reliable, secure and high-quality connectivity has become a prerequisite for family life, for business, for societies.

Our first round of crisis response focused on ensuring that our customers would remain connected to what matters. Even as we ourselves may be facing personal challenges or concerns during this time, our primary focus has remained on delivering high quality, uninterrupted service. Our customers rely on us, now more than ever. In this situation we’re all connectivity front-liners, no matter what role you play normally. 

Our digital lifestyle keeps people together, even while physically apart. We can connect with our loved ones, we can stay informed, we can find ways to learn new things, we can stay productive with work, we can find new opportunities. But delivering lifeline connectivity is only one part of our responsibility as a telecom service provider.

As one of the largest employers in the sector, we bear a responsibility to our employees and their families, and to our business partners. Taking care and ensuring a safe working environment for everyone in our team, in our extended teams within technology or commercial operations, is a key priority. In our business continuity  meetings every afternoon, the safety of our people is always at the top of our list. Much of our discussions focus on keeping our colleagues and partners safe and secure, and well connected to all the technological, professional and emotional support needed to weather this storm.

We also have a responsibility to the community we serve. When crisis hits, it is the least resourceful who have the most to lose. They lack economic buffers or insurance. So while the disease may be equally lethal or non-lethal among all people, it is those with the least who stand to suffer more. As a large company in Myanmar, we feel a clear responsibility to contribute in all the relevant ways we can. We set high standards for ourselves on sustainability, but this is about more than checking all the boxes: it’s about making real impact, quickly. To date, our social impact initiatives in Myanmar have benefited more than 1 million beneficiaries. COVID-19 is presenting us with an opportunity to meaningfully touch the lives of the people in Myanmar. The way we respond to COVID-19 reflects how responsible we are and how far we are willing to go to help those who are most vulnerable sectors.

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Over the past few months, we have been launching coordinated efforts to help medical front-liners, quarantined migrant workers, teachers, and those living in IDP camps.  From SMS-enabled fund raising for the National-Level Central Committee for COVID-19 Prevention, Control and Treatment, to the distribution of free SIM cards and personal protective equipment (PPEs), Telenor has been demonstrating its strong solidarity with the people in Myanmar.

We made sure vital telecommunications service is available to first responders and frontline health workers. We also made sure all of our customers can access the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) website as often as they need, without incurring data charges.

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We reinforced our support to the education sector through free access to the Ministry of Education’s MEDP site which aims to help basic education teachers nationwide access teaching tools and references online. And, as part of our commitment to inclusion, teachers who are living in the 8 townships in Rakhine and Chin States that are affected by the internet shutdown will be receiving DBE box sets so they can stay abreast and use the same learning tools offline.

Telenor is always standing with Myanmar and we will do so amid this crisis and beyond. We believe that together, we are stronger. #StaySafeMyanmar

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