MTN stands tall in COVID-19 fight

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Mtn
Mtn

In the same year Covid-19 hit Ghana, 2020, the country’s biggest telecoms operator, MTN Ghana announced that it was on a mission to become a complete Digital Operator by 2023. Later the same year, it became clear that, that vision is actually a small part of a much bigger MTN Group strategy to become a platform player by year 2025. The strategy is dubbed Ambition 2025.

As if by coincidence, Covid-19 presented a great opportunity for the world to go largely digital, and that sat perfectly well with MTN Ghana’s digital operator vision, and the Group’s Ambition 2025 strategy, which was hinged mainly on five pillars – Digital (Ayoba), Mobile Finance, Business Services, Network as a Service (NaaS) and API Marketplace (Chenosis).

The Group and all the individual operations, including Ghana, have since gone on to launch a new brand identity to reflect the new strategy, aiming at becoming a full digital platform player that enables doers in Africa to achieve their dreams as they contribute to the progress of the continent.

This means, beyond being a telecoms and internet service provider, MTN is transforming into more of an enabler and a driving force that powers players in technology, finance, education, health, entertainment, sports, arts, business and more on the continent.

In MTN’s own words, “the new brand identity is an extension and visual representation of the Group’s refreshed strategy, dubbed Ambition 2025 and premised on Leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress. Through the delivery of this strategy, MTN aims to accelerate growth by building the largest and most valuable platform businesses and driving its industry leading connectivity operations.”

Indeed, in the midst of the Covid-19-induced boom in digital transactions across the world, MTN, like many other players in the tech and digital space, was one of the biggest winners. It reflected and continues to reflect in their overall performance in terms of revenue, profits and indeed the contribution of its digital operations to the bottom line.

So, through Covid-19, it has become even more clearer that the key to securing the future of any business now is to secure the future of the people within its area of operations. As a typical African brand, and in fact the biggest brand on the continent, MTN has always been about people, and at the forefront of driving people-centered strategies and initiatives. Hence, it was not lost on MTN that securing the future of the peoples of Africa is paramount. 

MTN Group President, Ralph Tendai Mupita put it very aptly. He said: “Africa is a continent with enormous opportunity and energy and we want to play our part in harnessing her potential and supporting her progress by driving digital and financial inclusion. It is a well-known fact that the youth are central to achieving this potential. Whilst we remain focused on all our customers and stakeholders, our brand evolution demonstrates an enhanced focus on the youth.”

Clearly, MTN is very particular about the future of the continent and they are very much aware that, that future lies in the young people on the continent. That was why when Covid-19 hit Africa, MTN was the first business entity to jump into the fray to help secure the future of Africa by practically branding the biggest initiatives aimed firstly, at protecting young lives across the continent against the onslaught of the pandemic, and secondly, providing the resource for young people to keep thriving in the midst of the pandemic.

That sharp focus on the progress and prosperity of Africa post the pandemic was earlier articulated by MTN Ghana CEO, Selorm Adadevoh when MTN Ghana donated some 165,000 AstraZeneca vaccines to Ghana government last year. Selorm stated that “As a company that is committed to the prosperity and progress of Ghana and indeed the continent, we are proud to be able to make a humble contribution to the millions of vaccine doses needed to reach herd immunity.” 

MTN has always been clear in its mind that the fight against Covid-19 is about securing the future of Africa – and every initiative MTN has embarked on, in that respect, has clearly reflected that vision.

Taking on Covid-19 head on

MTN Group’s initial commitment to Covid-19 was a US$15 million package dedicated to its various initiatives. Subsequent to that, it also dedicated an additional US$25 million specifically to support the African Union’s vaccine acquisition and distribution programme across all 55 African countries.

In Ghana, by the close of December 2020, MTN Ghana reported, it had spent a whopping GHC139 million on the Covid-19 fight, which is way more than any telecom operator and indeed, any multinational in Ghana for that matter, had spent on the Covid-19 fight. Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA) finds this level of commitment from MTN very laudable indeed.

Yello Hope

In the midst of the pandemic-induced gloom, MTN Ghana promised to provide a ray of hope, by naming its commitment to the Covid-19 fight “Yello’ Hope”, which CEO, Selorm Adadevoh noted, was strategically designed with specific interventions for government, customers and MTN workers.

“Our commitment on Y’ello Hope initiatives to brighten lives was valued to be GH¢139 million as at the end of December 2020,” he stated.

As part of the package, MTN first donated GHS5 million of Covid-19 items to the National Covid-19 Trust Fund in July 2020. The items included 44,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), 4 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines and some test kits.

Here is the break down:

  • N95 Masks – 10,000
  • PPE Disposable coveralls – 7,500
  • PCR Machines – 4
  • Gloves – 10,000
  • Virus sampling kits 10,000
  • RNA Extraction kits – 3,000
  • Infrared Thermometers – 500 and
  • Disposal Bedsheets – 3,000

Vaccines

Beyond that, as part of the US$25 million vaccine support package, MTN Ghana was the first and only corporate entity to have brought in some 360,000 Covid-19 vaccines to government and has committed to providing even more through the groups support for the African Union. The charge is to bring in up to seven million vaccines Africa, out of which Ghana alone will get at least one million.

As if that was not enough, recently, MTN Ghana presented another GHS5 million cash to the government, again to support the Covid-19. This cash comes in handy, as government has not hidden the fact that Covid-19 has taken a great toll on the economy and now government is even finding it difficult to pay public workers’ salaries.

Workers

MTN also rolled out a very elaborate strategy to ensure that both workers and customers are protected from Covid while they continue to work and deliver on their targets. It Yello Hope initiative, for instance, placed a premium on the health and safety of staff, as reflected in comprehensive measures put in place to facilitate remote work while ensuring workers delivered on targets.

The company provided 80 buses to convey frontline workers between home and office to reduce contact with other persons and thus prevent the spread of Covid-19. They also had a daily health monitoring survey in place to ensure that workers who needed any special attention got it.

For customers, MTN collaborated with Bank of Ghana to provide free person to person mobile money transfers of up to GHC100 a day and that, according to the CEO, saved customers up to GHC94 million in transfer fees. The free transfer regime ha since been extended till date, and that is preventing face to face interaction and also deepening financial inclusion to a large extent.

Zero-rated websites

Together with other telcos, MTN also provided free access to over 200 education sites, which is benefiting between four to five million students and teachers at various levels of education, plus MTN also gave more scholarships under its Bright Scholars initiative amid the pandemic. MTN also zero rated visits to several government sites where individuals could access health and other vital information.

One would have thought that once MTN had donated GHS5 million worth of Covid-19 stuff to government, it would sit back and watch the government distribute to various health institutions, but no. MTN took the initiative again and donated an additional 87,000 boxes of face masks to 31 health facilities across the country.

Public education campaigns 

Over the During the period, MTN also embarked on a number of specific campaigns to drive the right behavior that prevents the spread of the virus. All the campaigns are geared towards ensure that people made it a practice to wear their face masks. And it was across the Group.

It started with the “BE WISE” initiative, which transitioned into the “WearItForMe” and now the campaign is dubbed “One More Push”. The bottom line is “wear your face mask and wear it right”. It also focused on pushing people to continue to wash their hands and practice social distancing.

Mandatory vaccination

Recently, when the issue of compulsory vaccination against Covid-19 became a huge public discussion, the MTN Group was one of the first to look past the controversy and mandate all of its staff to take the vaccine as a condition for keeping their jobs with the company.

That was a bold step that JBA congratulates MTN for, particularly because the company was very clear about that reasons for making vaccination mandatory – to protect all of its stakeholders – staff, customers and partners. That is what a responsible business does in the face of such global level challenges like Covid-19.

Going forward, MTN has assured Ghanaians and indeed Africans that it will continue to support governments and the people’s of the continent to navigate the scourge of the pandemic and maintain its steady progress. Indeed, in the midst of the pandemic, MTN paid one of the biggest taxes in Ghana – GHS2.7 billion and the future even looks brighter as the company transforms into a platform player on the back of its Ambition 2025 strategy.

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