Telecoms agency sets up internet centre in Timbuktu

Telecoms Sans Frontières (TSF) has set up an internet communications centre in war-torn Timbuktu to help restore normal life in the Malian city.

A team from the Inmarsat-sponsored agency has established an internet hub in Timbuktu's town hall to help the authorities, emergency responders and aid organisations.

TSF's communications specialists remain in the country, despite ongoing battles between rebels and Mali's army in the north of the country and the relative calm in and around Timbuktu being shattered by a series of suicide blasts.

Emergency support
“Until recently Timbuktu did not have reliable access to the internet because of damage to the landline network during the conflict,” said TSF spokesman German Mjaviya.

“Using it is critical to the work of authorities and agencies working to repair the damage to the country and restore normality.

“TSF's internet centre provides the only public internet connections in Timbutku.”

Medical teams
The internet hub is being used by government agencies and non-governmental organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières, Handicap International, the International Organization for Migration, child rights organisation PLAN International, and a variety of medical teams.

It provides support to emergency workers in Timbuktu, facilitating the exchange of information necessary for the management of their complex and dangerous missions.

“Aid workers and government officials have to stay in constant touch with contacts in the capital city, Bamako, and with their home offices, to enable them to safely and effectively manage this humanitarian crisis.”

Free calls
TSF teams equipped with Inmarsat BGAN and IsatPhone Pro have worked in Mali since February, first offering free calls to the population, and later providing satellite connectivity in Timbuktu after the Malian army retook the city.

Its specialists are also supporting Malians in refugee camps, providing reliable and fast broadband satellite connections for better co-ordination of organisations on the ground.