O’Brien’s Digicel pledges US$1.3m to hurricane relief efforts

22 Sep 2008

Irish businessman, Denis O’Brien’s Caribbean mobile network Digicel has pledged US$1.3m to support relief efforts following the spate of hurricanes in the Caribbean region.

With more than six million customers, Digicel is the largest mobile operator in the Caribbean and has recently launched into markets in Central America. The company is active in 23 markets.

Digicel’s contribution comes in the shape of donations to NGOs like the Red Cross, Food for the Poor, Catholic Relief Services, Concern and Agerca in Haiti and the Gustav Relief Fund and Mustard Seed in Jamaica, as well as the direct supply of aid parcels and free call credit across Haiti, Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos.

In Haiti, as well as making cash donations of US$400,000 to NGOs, US$200,000 towards the supply of direct aid and medical supplies and a further US$400,000 in free call credit and other mobile services, Digicel staff have also committed themselves to the relief efforts.

In Jamaica, Digicel donated food and supplies to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management to arrive in the worst hit areas the day after the passing of Hurricane Gustav.

It is now making further commitments of US$230,000 to the Government’s Gustav Relief Fund and a further US$30,000 to help rebuild the damaged structures at the Mustard Seed Communities – the first social project in Jamaica that Digicel assisted with back in 2001.

Meanwhile for the Turks and Caicos, Digicel chartered and filled two planes with aid parcels to get to people in the worst-affected areas the day after the passing of Hurricane Ike – and also donated free mobile handsets and car chargers to keep people in need connected.

“As a company born in the Caribbean and one of the largest employers in the region, we understand our responsibility to help these countries in times of need,” said Colm Delves, Digicel Group CEO.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years