The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) was activated in South Sudan in 2011 following the country’s independence, to provide security and data telecommunications and coordination services to the humanitarian community. Since the conflict began, the ETC scaled up its activities and expanded to new locations in the interior of South Sudan, supporting humanitarian organizations involved in the crisis response through the provision of vital telecommunication services.
The ETC is provided vital frontline ICT services to over 150 humanitarian organizations operating in South Sudan, including security telecommunications and internet connectivity services, renewable power, technical support (help desk & coordination) and training. ETC South Sudan was officially demobilised on 31 March, 2017. ICT activities are coordinated through the local ICT Working Group.
South Sudan has one of the most underdeveloped communications technology infrastructure in the world. Years of civil conflict and warfare have inhibited growth across the sector, discouraging both public and private investments.
This results in the total absence of a national communications backbone.
The four major mobile phone networks all have different, limited and unreliable coverage beyond Juba, the capital city. Therefore, most of the country, especially in areas where humanitarians operate, are not covered by mobile phone network.
Since the eruption of the conflict in South Sudan, even the few security telecommunications infrastructure present on the ground has been vandalised and destroyed, leaving most of the country without access to basic services.
Most of the population of South Sudan does not have access to power to sustain their basic needs.
For humanitarians, operating in remote and conflict-affected areas, access to conventional sources of power represents a constant struggle and an increasing operational cost, severely affecting the overall response.
Investments in renewable solar power therefore represent the future in South Sudan.
The number and expertise of internet service providers in South Sudan is rising, also providing services to remote locations of the country.
However, being South Sudan in one of the logistically most challenging and underdeveloped country in the world, a lack in operative capacity and prompt response represents an ongoing difficulty.
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