Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Liberia, Lonestar Cell MTN says it has, through its Y’ello Hope initiative, spearheaded the private sector support for the national efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Liberia. As the nation experiences immense human, economic, and social cost of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lonestar has so far provided support valued at more than $350,000 to help contain the outbreak, provide relief for customers and Liberians, and help the nation stay connected affordably.
Lonestar Cell MTN’s CEO, Uche Ofodile, said, “We have stood with the people of Liberia through changing times and our commitment remains unwavering as we fight the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the start of the pandemic, we have supported the government’s efforts through our Y’ello Hope package. We are helping to stop the spread of the outbreak by supporting contact tracing and monitoring; by carrying out mass hygiene and safety awareness through SMS, online and radio; and by bringing relief to those who need it the most. We are doing all we can to ensure that Liberia gets through this trying time and we will continue to do more as we navigate these trying times.”
In a statement issued late Thursday, the company said: “As the situation evolves, Lonestar Cell MTN is fully committed to supporting the Government of Liberia and local communities to overcome the various challenges they face while fighting to stop the outbreak. The company understands how vital reliable telecommunications services are during this period and has taken necessary steps to ensure that all services remain available without disruption for its customers. Its engineers are working around the clock every single day during this period to ensure that the network is always available because it is more important than ever to stay connected to loved ones.
“Lonestar Cell MTN has also accelerated its rural coverage roll out and expanded its network to over 120 remote towns and villages. Extending connectivity to these communities means that over 414,000 new customers no longer have to travel long distances to search for a signal because Lonestar Cell MTN is bringing the digital world and its benefits to them.”
So far, the Y’ello Hope Package has been instrumental on many fronts:
- Customers have been kept informed about the coronavirus/COVID-19 and how to stay safe and protected:
- An interactive Facebook live session was held with the Minister of Health, Dr. Jallah, which reached more than 10,000 people and helped to inform customers on the various actions being taken by the Government to ensure the safety of all Liberians ad well as clear up any myths related to the pandemic
- Over 2 million messages have been sent out to Lonestar Cell MTN customers to provide them with health tips they can use during this very challenging time as well as additional messages going out on a weekly basis
- 20,000 customers have made use of the free *445# platform provided on Lonestar Cell MTN to get information on the symptoms of the disease and to access the contact information for MOH/NPHIL
- In the last month, the company has made several posts on social media educating Liberians about the virus. These posts have reached over 250,000 people
- 90% of all Lonestar Cell MTN radio ads have been re-recorded to focus on providing health tips to listeners on 41 radio stations across the nation and are broadcasted over 3,000 times a week
- Anyone who calls a Lonestar Cell MTN customer will hear useful health tips as they wait for their calls to be connected
- Easing the cost burden for Lonestar Cell MTN’s customers who have lost their sources of income in this period:
- Lonestar Cell MTN is offering a special bundle on *156*19#, which gives customers a daily allocation of minutes, data and SMS for work and staying in touch with friends and family has so far helped subscribers save more than 2 million LRD as a result of the discounts applied on the offer
- All Lonestar Cell MTN customers also have access to 10 free SMSs per day to send to anyone on the network. Customers can dial *170# to activate their daily free text messages. So far, customers have sent more than 400,000 messages at no cost to themselves
- Customers using Lonestar Cell MTN’s Mobile Money service on *156# can now transfer money to other users of the service for free as part of measures to encourage people to avoid handling cash. Over 70,000 customers have benefitted from this offer.
- More than 1,500 Mobile Money subscribers have also made payments for goods and services at merchant locations without paying extra service fees.
- Additionally, on Mobile Money, customers can transfer money from their bank accounts to their Mobile Money accounts and vice versa with zero fees charged
- Lonestar Cell MTN has also partnered with the ayoba instant messaging platform to give its customers the ability to chat, share photos and videos and more without the need to have a data bundle or airtime on your phone
- For students who are now taking their lessons at home as part of the new normal, over 20 local and international educational institutions and resources have had their websites zero-rated, which means customers can get access to the information without having to use data or buy a data bundle to continue their education
- Helping the Government of Liberia, MOH and NPHIL with their on-going activities:
- A donation of 500 phones, SIMs and airtime was made to MOH/NPHIL through the Office of the Vice President to be used for contact tracing and for people in quarantine to stay in touch with their friends and family
- Additional support in the form of free airtime and SIM cards has been given to various rural communities to support the local efforts to keep people safe and protected
- Over 100 health workers have been provided with a facility that allows them to call each other for free during this period as they coordinate their COVID-19 response activities and efforts
- Members of the Liberia Medical and Dental Association and the Press Union of Liberia have also been provided with a heavily discounted voice and data package to support their vital operations in keeping us all safe and informed in this period
- Two toll-free lines (4455 and 0880000664) have been made available for Lonestar Cell MTN customers to call for assistance from the MOH and NPHIL
- At the company’s offices and service centers, precautionary measures have been put in place to help slow down the rate of infection including enforcing social distancing protocols, temperature checks and washing of hands before entering the premises. 80% of the company’s staff are working from home.
Deputy CEO, Ali Fakih said, “We all have a role to play in ending the outbreak. To protect each other we must all make it a priority to STAY HOME and STAY SAFE. Listen to health experts, be disciplined about personal hygiene and practice social distancing. Working together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19. We will get through this because we are #goodtogether.”