In the dark: how Tangiers deals with communication black spots

Be honest, you take the whole ‘interconnected world’ thing for granted, don’t you?

Somewhere between pinging WhatsApp messages half way around the planet and poring over brunch pics on Instagram from a country you’ve never visited, it’s easy to forget what a recent development this type of communication represents.

In fact, for millions of people living in poorer, less developed or simply more remote regions, the age of instant communication is still a distant dream.

For these people, keeping in touch with the outside world may involve traipsing for miles into the nearest town to pick up a weak phone signal or to visit an internet café where an intermittent connection allows a few emails to be picked up.

For Tangiers International, this can make managing medical cases, agreeing settlement amounts or merely communicating with a claimant a tricky business involving overland travel, third parties, missed meetings and delays.

Tangiers regional manager Andrew Kadiegu is well-placed to overcome these difficulties. Andrew, a Kenyan national residing in the capital Nairobi, well understands the issues of facilitating medical treatment when communication is hampered by a lack of digital infrastructure.

One recent case illustrates how Andrew and his fellow case managers are able to deal with communication black spots.

A Kenyan claimant who had been injured while working in Afghanistan was living in a small village 200-odd kilometres from Nairobi. There was no network coverage in the village and the roads which led there would test the capabilities of most off-road vehicles.

Andrew said: “He had been injured a few years before, but had not received treatment all this time and his condition was deteriorating.”

Complicating the matter, the claimant was being represented by an attorney, meaning all correspondence needed to go through a third party.

“Speaking through the attorney slows the process,” explained Andrew. “You have to communicate with the attorney who then speaks to the claimant and, of course, this delays things moving forward sometimes.”

Through a mixture of postal communication and telephone messages, Andrew was finally able to make contact with the claimant and to arrange a time and location to meet him.

“The area where he lived was very remote and with no network coverage,” continued Andrew. “It was by the grace of God that we could get in touch with him.

“We hired a four-by-four and a driver from Nairobi to get out to the nearest town to where he lived.

“Getting to where the gentleman was, there is no road. The terrain is horrible. It’s very challenging even in a four-by-four.”

After finally traversing the bumpy route, Andrew and his driver were able to meet up with the claimant and begin the slow journey back to the capital.

“We delivered him to Nairobi hospital. We admitted him on the first day he arrived in the city and within two days he began treatment.”

Andrew, who is able to communicate in Kamba, the local language of the claimant, is well-placed to bridge the communication gaps which exist in more remote areas – whether they are cultural or technical.