Aid International Development Forum has conducted a 60 second interview with Nada El Marji, Director, Aid and Development at Inmarsat.
Tell us about your company and products/services?
Inmarsat has a long and proud history of providing reliable communications for aid and development organisations tasked with relief efforts following man-made and natural disasters, as well as providing vital connectivity and communications for longer term developmental projects in some of the world’s most remote locations. We recently celebrated over 15 years of humanitarian partnership with Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), having provided satellite communications for TSF missions in over 70 countries in the aftermath of some of the most devastating natural disasters and harrowing conflicts. This is just one example of the work our services makes possible, and we are fully committed to continuing our support to the community.
On the 14th of October, Inmarsat, along with world-leading satellite operators under the umbrella of the EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) and the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), signed a Crisis Connectivity Charter at the World Humanitarian Summit Global Consultation in Geneva. The Charter formalises terms and protocols to increase the ability of emergency response teams to access satellite-based communications when local networks are affected, destroyed or overloaded in the wake of a disaster.
Inmarsat provides the tools that empower first responder teams to deliver rapid, effective aid to areas afflicted by disaster via our range of products that are reliable, portable and easy to set up and use:
IsatPhone2: Our robust, reliable satellite phone giving access to voice and SMS communications, alongside tracking and emergency assistance functionality, anywhere in the world.
BGAN: Our global broadband internet connectivity service. Accessed through light, portable and easy to deploy terminals, aid teams can use BGAN and get connected within minutes of arrival on the scene.
Global Xpress: The world’s first global high-speed Ka-band network delivers superfast broadband speeds from fully transportable, easy to use terminals that can be assembled and in operation within minutes.
IsatData Pro: A low data rate service ideal for remote management of fixed and mobile assets including tracking and telemetry, IsatData Pro operates in near real-time anywhere in the world. Suitable for mission-critical applications, it offers a wide range of protocols for data collection.
What is your company’s involvement in the region?
Whilst headquartered in London, Inmarsat has satellite offices all around the world. Our African offices are in South Africa and in conjunction with our network distribution partners spread across the African continent, we provide local support to aid and NGOs whenever and wherever it is needed.
We work closely with the aid and development community in Africa. During emergency efforts, such as the response to the Ebola crises, our BGAN services were used to coordinate relief efforts as well as gathering and disseminating epidemiological and other medical information from remote communities to help understand the impact and spread of disease, all in real time.
As well as empowering an effective disaster response, our connectivity is also in use throughout Africa to support development initiatives. For example, our BGAN link service is in use in rural villages in Benin, providing remote, community-based healthcare workers with real-time access to the resources and expertise of their colleagues located in larger urban hospitals and clinics, in order to diagnose and treat chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and hypoglaecemia amongst the villages women and children, illnesses which could otherwise prove fatal.
Last year we were pleased to support Ampion with their Venture Bus project; a 3-month long programme made up of 7-day bus tours into key African countries. These tours connected a global team of volunteers, from tech experts to business development experts, with talented young African entrepreneurs and app developers. The goal of the project was to create, in 7 days, pitches and development plans for start-up tech ventures, all designed to benefit the local community. Our connectivity was essential for the entrepreneurs to research and develop their pitches as they travelled.
What do you think are key trends and future developments in the sector?
Over the last few years, the world has witnessed a drastic increase in the rate of disasters, both natural and manmade. As leaders in the satellite communications industry, I see our role as encouraging innovation and stimulating the development of solutions through partnership with key third-party developers and solutions providers that, together with our connectivity, offer the aid and development community a tailored, end-to-end solution to enable a successful mission, whether that’s emergency response or a more developmental goal.
Earlier this year, Inmarsat launched our open network strategy, stimulating application development by opening up our network API to third party companies. This then enables the third-party company to develop specialised applications for connectivity challenges.
For example, in the Aid and development sector, applications like Safe Triage’s telemedicine kit makes gathering patient data simple and straightforward, and our BGAN service means that it can be used in the most remote of locations, places where other connectivity methods, like cellular or terrestrial broadband, are not available.
ASIGN, from AnsuR Technologies, is another example, a situational awareness application that helps humanitarian agencies share photographic and video details in high resolution without waiting to download the entire file. The solution allows the high-resolution download of just part of an image in real-time sharing only those details that are most relevant and working seamlessly with GIS overlay solutions.
We anticipate much more of this type of collaboration going forward, and for Aid & NGOs, whether for first responders or sustainable development initiatives, this means that you will have access to solutions that are not only compatible with our network, but provide effective, tailored solutions that offer genuine operational benefits, whether you’re using our network for voice, broadband, machine to machine connectivity or all three.
Nada El Marji
Director, Aid and Development
Nada El Marji is Director of Aid and Development at Inmarsat plc (LSE: ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, delivering voice and data communications to remote users around the world, operating beyond the reach of terrestrial networks.
Ms El Marji is responsible for setting strategic direction of Inmarsat’s enterprise business unit comprising the Aid, Healthcare and Education sectors. She has more than 15 years of experience in the Mobile Satellite Communications, Healthcare and Education advanced technologies.
Throughout her career, Ms El Marji had the chance to support projects that have extended communications to remote communities in different parts of the world. As part of her work with NGO and aid organisations, Ms El Marji is particularly concerned with bringing new and innovative communications solutions to agencies dealing with disaster response. She is also currently focusing on extending quality healthcare and education services to underserved communities through the use of satellite broadband connectivity, which enable remote hospitals, schools and clinics to access eHealth and eLearning applications.
Ms El Marji holds MBA degree from Leicester University in the UK.
Come and meet us at the Aid & Development Africa Summit held on 2-3 February 2016 at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For more information and to register your participation, visit http://africa.aidforum.org