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Sustainability and MTN’s business context

Like any other business, our operating context is shaped by global and local issues in business and society, our socio-economic landscape and environmental pressures and commercial opportunities.

As an information and telecommunications company operating in developing economies across Africa and the Middle East, we continue to learn from the experiences of our peers globally. In many cases, we set the trend, given the unique opportunities and challenges we face in the markets in which we do business.

The social and economic landscape in which MTN operates continues to develop at a rapid pace. A Cisco Networks study predicts that the mobile network will break the electricity barrier in more than four major regions by 2015.

In sub-Saharan Africa alone, more people will have more mobile network access than access to domestic electricity.

MTN operates under licence from regulatory authorities. Pressure to keep communication prices down while continuing to invest in new infrastructure is an on-going feature of business for all network operators.

Globally and within MTN’s markets, the Arab Spring and social and political developments in a number of MTN’s markets indicate the changing perspective on freedom of expression and the right to communication and access to information including the internet. Governments in both developing and developed countries are placing further curbs on information privacy and security.

Increasing guidelines, laws and requirements around energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water and the impact of environments on society, especially poor and vulnerable communities with little economic resource to cope with the consequences of climate change, pose complex challenges and require integrated partnerships.

Most businesses report that being sustainable ‘is a journey, not a destination’. This means that ultimately the business that prioritises the top sustainability issues is able to address, sets about implementing solutions to these matters as part of its growth, and then moves on to the next set of sustainability opportunities, risks or challenges. This is again due to the large number and complex nature of issues any business must address.

We see an opportunity to continue doing business in a way that makes a meaningful economic, environmental and social difference in the markets in which we operate.

MTN Group is no different. For a few years now, we have worked towards making sustainability part of our core business activities. Using the Forum for the Future’s Five Capitals Model, we determined what the most important impacts, risks and opportunities are to MTN. We establish what this may mean to our stakeholders if we implement solutions to challenges such as energy and climate, e-waste, invest in schools and universities which help develop human capital, close the digital divide, innovate and develop enterprises in a socially responsible manner.

Our position as an ICT service provider in developing economies shapes our sustainability strategy. We know first hand the particular economic, social and environmental challenges and opportunities in emerging markets in Africa and the Middle East.

For MTN Group, sustainability is about the way we conduct our core business. We work to integrate economic, environmental and social issues into our product development, how we run our network and how we manage the different needs of our people, customers, investors and the communities in which we operate. Through this commitment, we aim to protect and create value for our stakeholders.

Why MTN cares about sustainability:

We operate in some of the environmentally and economically vulnerable countries in the world, and our customers are drawn from these markets.

Affordable and widespread access to telecommunication and information services is a catalyst to socio-economic development.

Consumers, communities and governments expect businesses to operate in a way that reduces harm and negative impacts and helps build socially, economically and environmentally sustainable communities.

We know that integrating sustainability and core business activities can help save costs over the short and longer term and help us earn revenue from new applications of ICT services.

MTN’s sustainability priorities:

Energy cost, carbon and climate management across networks


Integrated ICT to help other businesses, customers and communities manage environmental and socio-economic issues

To support our sustainability vision of protecting and creating economic value for MTN through responsible environmental and social practices, we have linked our sustainability initiatives to four Group-wide goals. These are set out in the Group's     PDF  MTN 2011 integrated Business report (3.26 MB)

We spent time assessing what our main environmental, social and sustainability economic issues are, what poses the greatest threats and opportunities to our business and what we are most able to influence positively through our actions. We ultimately narrowed our sustainability focus down to three big goals and are now working to implement solutions that can address these.

The sustainability projects that we implement are all designed to support at least one of MTN’s high-level goals of focusing on ICT convergence, costs, market leadership and the customer experience. Our sustainability goals are complemented by high-level key performance indicators, and in 2012, stricter, quantifiable and time-bound targets will be set for our energy and e-waste projects.

Sustainability priorities

Global ICT by 2015

- Source: AfricaNext Research

ICT in Africa2011

- Source: AfricaNext Research

Mtn Group contacts


MTN Group Limited
Innovation Centre
216 14th Avenue


Private Bag 9955
South Africa


Landline: +27 11 912 3000


Sustainability is about protecting and creating economic value for MTN and our stakeholders through responsible environmental and social core business practices.