Irish telecoms entrepreneur Denis O’Brien, whose company Digicel is a major mobile operator in the Caribbean and Central America, has been named goodwill ambassador for the city of Port-au-Prince in earthquake-hit Haiti.
The honour is in recognition of O’Brien’s dedication to helping Haiti rebuild and recover in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince on 12 January.
Port-au-Prince Mayor Jean Yves Jason and Deputy Mayor Nadeje Augustin bestowed the honour on O’Brien.
Since the earthquake, O’Brien has been instrumental in efforts to attract much-needed aid relief to the country – as well as to encourage businesses to consider Haiti as an ideal place for foreign direct investment.
As the single largest investor in Haiti with a total investment of more than U$300 million since its launch in 2006, Digicel has more than 2 million customers in the country.
Digicel’s work to help Haiti recover from earthquake
The Digicel Haiti Relief Fund has donated US$5 million to NGOs in Haiti to support the relief efforts and, to date, more than US$800,000 has been raised by Digicel customers across the Caribbean and Central America through a ‘text and voice’ donation line.
“In my role as goodwill ambassador for the city of Port-au-Prince, I promise to do everything in my power to ensure that the plight of the people in Haiti is kept front of mind across the globe. I would like to thank the mayor and the deputy mayor for this prestigious honour.
“Over the last few weeks, we have seen a massive worldwide outpouring of sympathy and support, but much more is needed.
“The challenge is to achieve significant and sustained foreign investment and to ensure that this money is channelled into the right projects and succeeds in making a tangible, positive long-term difference. With the right focus and planning, together we can help Haiti to rise again,” O’Brien said.
Jason said that even prior to Digicel’s launch in Haiti in 2006, O’Brien had been a huge supporter of the country and has worked to ensure a better standard of living for its people through the provision of housing, educational facilities and programmes.
“He is very much the right person to help us to rebuild and to look to the future in a positive way. We are delighted that he has accepted this role and look forward to working together closely for the long-term benefit of the Haitian people,” Jason said.
By John Kennedy
Photo: Denis O’Brien, chairman of Digicel and now goodwill ambassador for Port-au-Prince, Haiti