Turkcell View from Davos WEF’18: For Refugees in the Digital Era, Technology is not a Luxury; it is a “Must-Have”

DAVOS, Switzerland--()--The role of technology in solving global problems is one of the major themes as global leaders gather in Davos for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2018. Turkcell (NYSE: TKC)(BIST:TCELL) CEO Kaan Terzioglu were among leaders who have addressed the gathering on “Reconnecting Refugees” session.

“A smartphone is not a luxury item for a person who has left their entire life and loved ones behind and who have seen their family spread all over the world. It is a lifeline”

“Solve humanitarian issues not with ‘humanless’ but with human-focused uses of technology”

In his remarks, Kaan Terzioglu emphasized the role that telecommunications companies can play in addressing humanitarian problems. He called for a human-centered discussion of the role that technology can play instead of the current focus on creating solutions that efface the human element.

Terzioglu also addressed the misconception that having access to technology is a sign of being quite well-off and that refugees do not need to be helped if they have access to technological goods. “A smartphone is not a luxury item for a person who has left their entire life and loved ones behind and who have seen their family spread all over the world. It is a lifeline” said Kaan Terzioglu. “Futhermore, through our work with Syrian refugees in Turkey, we realized that technologies that are ‘nice-to-have’ for many of us are ‘must-have’ solutions for them. Instant voice translation on mobile devices and learning the language of the host country through mobile education tools are among such solutions. This led us to create ‘Hello Hope’ mobile app which is used extensively by more than 700 thousand users in Turkey today.”

Terzioglu also underlined the socially responsible business angle of using technology for humanitarian purposes: “We reach out to all refugees from Syria with our aid-focused programs but we also proudly serve 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey as our customers. It is an honor to create solutions which will help them rebuild their lives, and they have rewarded us time and again for providing these services by choosing Turkcell as their service provider. Our socially responsible business approach can be another model for the humanitarian community to ensure that support to vulnerable populations is sustainable over time.”

Serving 1.7 Syrians with connectivity and digital solutions

Turkcell currently serves 1.7 million Syrians out of a population of 3.3 Syrian refugees in Turkey. In addition to its mobile and fixed connectivity services and bilingual call center, the operator also offers digital solutions including its flagship app “Merhaba Umut”/“Hello Hope”. The app incorporates Turkish-Arabic instant voice translation -used 11 million times- , Turkish language learning through vocabulary flashcards - viewed 450 million times - as well useful information cards covering issues such as registration, education and health - viewed 4.6 million times.

“Reconnected Refugees” session was moderated by Al Arabiya anchor Mayssoun Azzam. Along with Kaan Terzioglu, the panellists were Filippo Grandi - UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Louise Mushikiwabo - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Rwanda, Sara Pantuliano – Managing Director of Overseas Development Institute, and Elaine Weidman-Grunewald - SVP and Chief Sustainability and Public Affairs Officer of Ericsson.

Watch the full session here: https://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2018/sessions/the-digital-refugee


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Turkcell CEO Kaan Terzioglu spoke at “Reconnecting Refugees” session during WEF'18 in Davos.