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  • Writer's pictureGeeks Without Frontiers

Geeks Without Frontiers Delivers Disaster Preparedness Program For the Government of Afghanistan

U.S. Government and Industry Supports Initiative, Sets Stage for Development of Afghan Emergency Communications Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS), a non-profit organization with the goal of leveraging connectivity to improve and save lives throughout the world has – with support from the U.S. government and in coordination with leading international organizations – successfully provided a disaster preparedness program for the government of Afghanistan.

The program, which also received support from key industry members, is part of a global initiative of GEEKS, which helps to harness connectivity, technology and regulation, and combine them with stakeholder resilience strategies focused on disaster preparedness, response and recovery to help protect, save and restore lives.

“GEEKS is honored to work alongside the Afghan government, in coordination with the U.S. government, and with support from the United Nations and key communications companies,” said David Hartshorn, GEEKS’ CEO. “The outcome of this program is not only strengthened disaster preparedness, but also an important step toward the development of a national emergency communications plan for Afghanistan.”

Central to the GEEKS program was an “Emergency Communications Management Symposium”. Held recently in the United Arab Emirates, the program was delivered with support from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) and made possible through funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Industry sponsors were also instrumental to the program’s success, including Arabsat, Hughes, and Intelsat. Knowledge and skills were imparted by subject-matter experts from throughout GEEKS’ connectivity network to approximately 25 Afghan delegates from multiple government agencies and from local network operators.

GEEKS’ capacity building drew upon connectivity best practices shared with the delegates by representatives of organizations that are central to international and national resilience initiatives:

  • The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which, as a UN agency, shares best practice in communications regulation, policy and spectrum management. During the program, the ITU focused on optimizing these government functions for improved security and resilience.

  • The United Nations Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (UN-ETC), which coordinates disaster preparedness and response for UN agencies in disaster-affected nations in every major region. The organization advised the delegates on the technology tools, the operational strategy, and key considerations for coordinating with ETC before and during relief efforts.

  • The communications industry, whose representatives from Arabsat, Hughes and Intelsat shared updates on how state-of-the-art systems and services are being leveraged through resilience strategies for more effective preparedness, response and recovery. Hands-on skills building was provided by the GEEKS team together with operators of the technology solutions used for disaster response.

The Symposium concluded with an agreement to build upon the dialogue established during the program by collaborating on the development of a national Emergency Communications Plan for Afghanistan. A timeline for action has been confirmed by all of the above-noted stakeholders, whose contributions continue to be coordinated and supported by Geeks Without Frontiers.

About Geeks Without Frontiers

Geeks Without Frontiers is a platform for global impact. A technology neutral nonprofit organization, GEEKS’ mission is to bring the benefits of broadband connectivity – disaster preparedness, health, education, poverty reduction, gender equality and the other United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) – to the estimated 3.5 billion people who remain unconnected.

The GEEKS capacity-building team was drawn from the organization’s global network of leading connectivity experts, including:

  • Riaz Lamak, GEEKS’ International Program Lead, who manages capacity building and facilitates Performance Quality Assurance of assets, human resources, and processes. He also serves as President of MBC (, a consultancy that provides mentored onsite training, field support, operation, liaison and more.

  • Mazen Nassar, GEEKS’ Master Instructor, and CEO of Mena Nets (, which manages system integration, training, and consulting through a portfolio of seven technology lines. Mr. Nassar, who formerly worked with Price Waterhouse, specializes in satellite communications training and provides consulting throughout the MENA region.

  • Joe Simmons, GEEKS’ Project Director, who has extensive experience addressing global connectivity challenges in the NGO sector. He formerly managed critical humanitarian response initiatives, including Haiti and Dadaab as Global Connectivity Director for NetHope, an association of major NGOs.

  • Shafeeq Hamza, GEEKS’ Training Manager & MBC Trainer, as well as GVF Certified Examiner. Mr. Hamza has strong experience as program manager for large earth station antenna installations and ICT. He is a technical consultant for IT services including automation and operational services.

About the Sponsors

About Arabsat

Founded in 1976 by the 21 member-states of the Arab League, Arabsat has been serving the growing needs of the Arab world for over 40 years, operating from its headquarter in Riyadh-KSA and two Satellite control stations in Riyadh and Tunis. Now one of the world’s top satellite operators and by far the leading satellite services provider in the Arab world, it carries over 500 TV channels, 200 radio stations, pay-tv networks and wide variety of HD channels reaching tens of millions of homes in more than 80 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Europe—including an audience of over 170 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region alone tuned into Arabsat’s video “hotspot” at 26°E. Operating a growing ?eet of owned satellites at the 20°E, 26°E, 30.5°E and 39°E, ARABSAT is the only satellite operator in the MENA region offering the full spectrum of Broadcast, Telecommunications and Broadband services. For information about Arabsat, please visit

About Hughes Network Systems

Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES) is the global leader in broadband satellite technology and services for home and office. Its flagship high-speed satellite Internet service is HughesNet®, the world’s largest satellite network with over 1.4 million residential and business customers across North and South America. For large enterprises and governments, the company’s HughesON™ managed network services provide complete connectivity solutions employing an optimized mix of satellite and terrestrial technologies.

The JUPITER™ System is the world’s most widely deployed High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) platform, operating on more than 40 satellites by leading service providers, delivering a wide range of broadband enterprise, mobility and cellular backhaul applications. To date, Hughes has shipped more than 7 million terminals of all types to customers in over 100 countries, representing approximately 50 percent market share, and its technology is powering broadband services to aircraft around the world.

Headquartered outside Washington, D.C., in Germantown, Maryland, USA, Hughes operates sales and support offices worldwide, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation (NASDAQ: SATS), a premier global provider of satellite operations. For additional information about Hughes, please visit and follow @HughesConnects on Twitter.

About EchoStar EchoStar Corporation (NASDAQ: SATS) is a premier global provider of satellite communication solutions. Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., and conducting business around the globe, EchoStar is a pioneer in secure communications technologies through its Hughes Network Systems and EchoStar Satellite Services business segments. For more information, visit Follow @EchoStar on Twitter.

About Intelsat

Intelsat operates the world’s first Globalized Network, delivering high-quality, cost-effective video and broadband services anywhere in the world. Intelsat’s Globalized Network combines the world’s largest satellite backbone with terrestrial infrastructure, managed services and an open, interoperable architecture to enable customers to drive revenue and reach through a new generation of network services. Thousands of organizations serving billions of people worldwide rely on Intelsat to provide ubiquitous broadband connectivity, multi-format video broadcasting, secure satellite communications and seamless mobility services. For more information on Intelsat, visit

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