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Author: Amogelang Maluleka
Driven to offer Africans hope, dignity and opportunity, MTN Group this week celebrated the 25th anniversary of MTN Rwanda at a gala event attended by President Paul Kagame and other dignitaries.
President Kagame commended MTN for its commitment over the years: “Who else would have found it easy to invest in a country that had just emerged from our tragic history, as we know it? We took risks, both of us, you took a risk with us, and we took a risk with you, but here, 25 years later I think we can say we are happy. “
Speaking at the gala event held on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress Kigali, he added: “It’s not an understatement, it’s real, it is something we need to celebrate. I have no doubt, we will do even much better in the near future.”
MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita thanked the government and people of Rwanda for their support: “MTN Rwanda’s journey reflects our commitment to connecting Rwandans, and we thank all our stakeholders for travelling this path with us.”
He added: “An enabling environment is one of the key requirements for MTN’s work to extend digital and financial inclusion across the continent, which aims to give Africans hope, dignity and opportunity.”
MTN Rwanda CEO Mapula Bodibe said the company was dedicated to driving economic and social development: “We will continue to invest in Rwanda and are committed to continuing to work with the government and people of this beautiful country to achieve our shared goal of a prosperous and digitally connected nation.”
Bodibe also expressed gratitude to MTN Rwanda’s people: “I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the exceptional leadership and dedicated staff of MTN Rwanda. Their unwavering commitment, hard work, and passion have been instrumental in our success and have enabled us to make a meaningful impact on the lives of Rwandans.”
The company continues investing in networks and systems to expand its reach and deliver the benefits of a modern connected life to all Rwandans.
MTN Rwandacell PLC (MTN Rwanda) showcased the nation’s first-ever live 5G network technology demonstration at the opening of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Africa in Kigali. This exhibition, first revealed during the Presidential tour of the conference, underscores MTN Rwanda’s dedication to remaining at the forefront of leading technological progress and its unwavering commitment to delivering the most advanced and reliable connectivity solutions to Rwandans in response to the soaring demand for faster and more reliable mobile and fixed Broadband connectivity.
“5G represents more than speed; it’s a gateway to a world of endless possibilities. It holds the potential to revolutionize sectors such as healthcare, education, agriculture, and many more. For instance, with 5G, remote medical consultations and procedures could become a norm, significantly impacting healthcare accessibility in remote areas.” stated Mapula Bodibe, MTN Rwanda CEO. “Demonstrating new technology is not just about staying at the forefront of innovation; it’s about exploring new ways to improve the everyday lives of Rwandans and positioning the nation as a technology leader on the continent,” she added.
5G has the potential to transform Rwanda’s digital landscape, ushering in an era of unparalleled innovation and connectivity. 5G technology aims to provide access to advanced and high-speed mobile internet services and reduced latency, significantly enhancing internet user experience. With its transformative power, 5G will not only elevate digital experiences but also fuel economic growth and further drive the country’s digital inclusion agenda.
The 5G technology demonstration marks a new era for internet connectivity in Rwanda and exemplifies MTN Rwanda’s unwavering commitment to innovation and its dedication to enhancing the lives of Rwandans with leading network connectivity solutions. With 5G, Rwanda is poised to offer enhanced digital experiences and emerge as a leader for digital advancements on the African continent.
In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, MTN is committed to ensuring that women and girls have equal opportunities to participate in the digital economy. We understand that in this era, providing girls with equal access to digital training and education through our CSI initiatives is pivotal in shaping a digital future.
As a company, we are steadfast in our dedication to connectivity, inclusion, and skills development for all, with a specific focus on women and girls. We are actively engaged in initiatives aimed at kindling girls’ interest in STEM, with the aim of inspiring them to pursue careers in these future-oriented fields where women are often underrepresented. Every day, we see girls taking on incredible challenges that may seem impossible, and every day, we witness more and more evidence supporting the fact that they are unstoppable.
In Congo Brazzaville, our partnership with Chevron has given rise to the “One Woman = One Training in ICT” program, designed to cultivate digital skills among selected women. This initiative encompasses essential modules like automation, computer graphics, and community management. Similarly, in Cote d’Ivoire, our “STEM GIRLZ” project seeks to equip girls and young women with the ICT skills and knowledge they need to participate in the digital economy.
Most recently, we celebrated a significant milestone in MTN Uganda with the graduation of 70 young talents in Computer Applications through our MTN Girls in Tech program. The partnership with Smart Girls Foundation and their state-of-the-art training centre underscores our commitment to practical skills training. This achievement reflects our unwavering commitment to breaking down gender barriers in the digital domain.
Inclusion of girls is not just a moral imperative, but rather a necessity to secure the future for all. The force of collective responsibility cannot be underestimated; each of us has a role to play in this global endeavour, and the time for action is now.
What are you doing today to be part of the change?
MTN Group will be participating at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Kigali next week, when we look forward to engaging with African policymakers and industry leaders to advance the continent’s digital economy and extend financial inclusion.
MTN is a founding partner of MWC Kigali and the MTN delegation will be led by MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita.
“The need for innovation, digital transformation and financial inclusion has never been greater,” he said. “MTN is committed to collaborate with stakeholders who share our vision of finding solutions that empower communities, restore dignity and foster shared prosperity.”
Themed ‘Velocity: Unleashing Tomorrow’s Technology – Today’, the second annual instalment of MWC in Africa starts on Tuesday 17 October and runs until Thursday 19 October. It will bring together government officials, regulators, and representatives of all facets of the industry from across the continent and across the world.
In our rapidly evolving digital age, technology has seamlessly integrated into our lives, especially those of our children, spanning from early childhood to adolescence. While it offers a plethora of educational and entertainment benefits, it also triggers concerns regarding its influence on mental health. A concern that holds particular significance in the African context where one in five Africans grapple with mental health disorders. As a responsible Mobile Network Operator (MNO), MTN has firmly committed itself to championing online safety. As parents, educators, and caregivers, it is also imperative to grasp the intricate relationship between technology and the mental well-being of our youth.
Acknowledging these nuanced challenges and opportunities, on World Mental Health Day, MTN aims to raise awareness about the potential risks associated with technology, along with emphasising the need for education and awareness surrounding these issues. Researchers concur that when technology is utilised appropriately, it can augment cognitive, emotional, and social development.
The evolution of educational media harnessing technology to help children understand and address mental health challenges in an accessible, trustworthy, and comprehensible manner has significantly contributed to enhancing mental well-being.
However, the inappropriate use of technology can have detrimental effects. Researchers argue that excessive technology usage can lead to social isolation, sleep deprivation, and anxiety. Telecommunications technology can also foster a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and contribute to social media addiction, ultimately increasing anxiety levels and diminishing self-esteem.
While increased access to the internet and technological advances has brought numerous advantages, it has also introduced new online threats, such as cyberbullying, privacy breaches, sexting, the dissemination of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and other forms of sexual exploitation. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to implement safeguards.
MTN has consistently been at the forefront of the ongoing battle for online child safety. In 2022, we initiated the “Help Children Be Children in 2022” campaign. This campaign seeks to raise awareness about CSAM and educate the public in targeted countries about reporting such content. Furthermore, the campaign has facilitated the training of law enforcement and child helplines across the continent, positively impacting policy through roundtable discussions and encouraging key stakeholders, including industry leaders, to join the global effort against child sexual abuse material.
MTN has also actively supported the development of an Africa-wide online child safety portal. This portal, a pioneering endeavor, serves as a reporting mechanism for instances of child sexual abuse imagery online. MTN has collaborated with the IWF to bring this portal to fruition, and it is accessible at: Help Children Be Children MTN Group.
As we continue to lead the way in digital solutions for Africa’s progress, MTN firmly believes that we bear a critical responsibility in ensuring the online safety of every African child within our markets. The Online Child Safety Africa Portal represents one of our initiatives to create a secure online environment for our children.
In alignment with World Mental Health Day, MTN pledges to heighten awareness of the potential adverse consequences stemming from the inappropriate use of technology. We are committed to playing our part in establishing a safer online space for all.
For tips on how to keep children safe online visit MTN’s website.
MTN, Africa’s leading telecommunications service provider, is elevating customer experience through a transformative partnership with global consulting firm Accenture and customer experience solutions provider Genesys. This initiative aims to redefine customer care for MTN’s subscribers by leveraging cloud-native solutions and advanced AI capabilities to drive customer-centric innovation and operational excellence.
The Genesys Cloud CX platform, a pivotal component of this transformative programme, is engineered with cutting-edge AI capabilities. It incorporates natural language processing to understand customer queries more intuitively and machine learning algorithms to adapt and improve over time. These advanced technologies work in tandem to provide real-time insights and analytics that are invaluable for decision-making.
For MTN’s expansive network of thousands of agents, this means the ability to offer a service that is not just efficient but also highly personalized. The platform’s AI-driven analytics allow agents to understand customer behaviour and preferences and tailor interactions to individual needs. This level of customization significantly enhances customer satisfaction and fosters loyalty, setting a new standard for customer engagement in the telecommunications industry.
“As we navigate the complexities of a digital world, this transition to a leading-edge cloud-native Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solution serves as a cornerstone for reimagining customer care,” says MTN’s Group Chief Information Officer, Nikos Angelopoulos. “Our collaboration with Accenture and Genesys produced a scalable and adaptable solution that empowers our agents to better serve customers and positions us for long-term growth and operational efficiency.”
Cornelia van Heerden, Executive Customer Experience Operations for MTN South Africa, adds, “We aim to go beyond resolving queries to becoming a trusted partner in our customers’ digital journeys, offering a seamless experience across multiple touchpoints.”
Over the past year, MTN Operating Companies in several countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, and Uganda, have successfully transitioned to the Genesys Cloud CX platform. “This initiative is a testament to our resolve to adapt and grow with our customers, proactively meeting their ever-changing needs,” says Enzo Scarcella, MTN’s Group Chief Consumer Officer.
In South Africa alone, the transformation has yielded a 40% year-on-year reduction in call volume, demonstrating the initiative’s immediate impact on operational excellence. “Digital transformation is not just about adopting new technology; it’s about unlocking new ways to add value to our customers and our business. Our collaboration with industry leaders Accenture and Genesys underscores our commitment to delivering world-class service and operational results,” Angelopoulos adds.
Commenting on MTN’s ongoing technology revolution, Nitesh Singh, Accenture Africa’s CMT Lead, says, “We are proud to partner with MTN and bring our breadth of technological and business capabilities through the Genesys platform to reimagine the customer service offering. We have assisted MTN Group to create value through intelligent decision-making in a competitive business environment by optimizing costs and building resilient, elastic cloud technology.”
Genesys Account Director (Africa), Luisa Coetzee, concludes, “Genesys is pleased to partner with MTN Group in their customer experience transformation journey, collaborating with the different opcos to orchestrate personalized and empathetic experiences for their customer’s unique needs and meeting them where they are. The Genesys Cloud platform enables us to deliver value for all as it is architected to promote better Employee (EX) and Customer (CX) Experiences.”
The challenge of providing affordable and clean energy is a global imperative, especially in regions where energy access is considered a luxury. The absence of reliable energy sources does more than darken homes; it stifles hospitals, hampers education, and hinders economic development. The ripple effects of this multidimensional issue touch everything from public health to job creation. In this context, United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7), which advocates for Affordable and Clean Energy, serves as a cornerstone for environmental stewardship and is a fundamental requirement for sustainable development and social equity.
In countries like Nigeria, the situation is acute. According to the World Bank, roughly 47% of the population lacks reliable access to electricity. This energy deficit could be described as both a symptom and a cause of broader developmental challenges, making the need for immediate and sustainable solutions more urgent.
MTN Nigeria has stepped up to meet this challenge through a strategic partnership with Independent Power Producers (IPPs), entities that generate electricity for sale to either the national grid or specific end-users. This alliance led to the deployment of a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) power plant designed to supply MTN’s head office in Lagos and the Ikoyi Data Centre with a more sustainable energy source. The project incorporates an 11kV ring main unit – an electrical distribution component situated at the IPP vendor’s location, which helps increase the stability of power supply. This unit is connected to MTN’s facilities via a 2km 11kV underground cable, and the system is ingeniously designed with a two-input option to allow a seamless transition between the IPP-generated power and the national grid, ensuring a consistent and reliable power supply.
The forward-thinking initiative employs three 1.1MW gas generators, which produce a significant reduction in harmful emissions. Moreover, the cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of CNG is 60% lower than that of diesel, meaning this is a win for the environment and the wallet. This efficiency led to a substantial year-on-year drop in diesel consumption in 2022 – over 110,000 litres – translating to a financial saving of approximately 572 million Nigerian Naira in overall energy costs for MTN Plaza and Ikoyi Data Centre.
MTN Nigeria is making a meaningful contribution to a larger ecosystem of sustainability. The initiative serves as a compelling example of how private sector ingenuity can address immediate issues and contribute to broader societal goals. It underscores the transformative power of sustainable energy solutions in reshaping economies, uplifting communities, and safeguarding the environment for future generations.
The need for affordable and clean energy transcends technological challenges; it is a moral and social imperative that requires the collective efforts of governments, corporations, and communities. MTN Nigeria’s partnership with IPPs offers a viable and replicable model for addressing energy challenges, marking a significant step toward a more sustainable and equitable future.
MTN is honoured to have received The Africa-America Institute’s 2023 Corporate Responsibility Award, which recognises corporations that have made significant contributions to Africa’s progress and demonstrated a commitment to sustainable and inclusive growth, positively impacting communities and industries.
The accolade was presented at AAI’s 70th Anniversary Gala event in New York on Tuesday evening.
“As Africa’s largest mobile network operator, MTN has contributed to a revolution in the way Africans communicate with each other and the world – bridging the digital divide, catalysing economic growth, and raising living standards across the continent,” said AAI President and CEO Kofi Appenteng.
“MTN has been fundamental in supporting collaboration and the continent’s ability to share its achievements and history, something that is at the core of AAI’s mission. MTN’s work and that of its foundations is an inspiration. The company’s commitment to inclusive connectivity, gender equality, accelerating financial inclusion, and empowering employees and communities deserves recognition,” he added.
MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita accepted the award on behalf of MTN’s more than 17 000 employees across 19 markets: “We are humbled by this recognition. We are also inspired and encouraged to continue to drive digital and financial inclusion and create shared value. We believe this work gives Africans dignity, hope, and opportunity.”
Latest data from the GSMA and Broadband Commission shows that for every 10% increase in internet use, GDP grows by an additional 1.5%. However, a third of the world’s population does not use the internet at all.
“These people are still not digitally connected and could well end up as a digital underclass,” said Mupita, adding that priority must be given to investments in digital infrastructure and services to avoid even more inequality. “We must ensure that as technologies such as AI develop, we also get large language models trained on African languages. Initiatives such as conversational payments that are taking root in places like India must come rapidly to Africa.”
MTN Group’s Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer Nompilo Morafo said the AAI recognition was both a validation and an inspiration for MTN’s commitment to responsible business practices and sustainable growth. “Our business has always been about more than connectivity; it’s about empowering communities, driving inclusion, championing diversity, and ensuring that our operations leave a positive, lasting impact.”
The AAI’s Annual Awards Gala, held during the United Nations General Assembly, is a marquee event celebrating the accomplishments of Africa and its global diaspora. The gathering attracts a diverse audience, including heads of state, diplomats, international officials, philanthropists and business leaders.
“As we celebrate this esteemed recognition, we are reminded that our work is far from complete,” said Morafo. “This award fuels our resolve to intensify our efforts. Working together, with our partners, communities, governments, and other stakeholders, we will continue to champion initiatives that drive Africa’s digital transformation and socio-economic betterment,” she added.
To focus MTN’s CSI efforts and maximise their impact, MTN launched our first foundation in 2001 in South Africa. Since then, we have rolled out another 12 foundations across 18 markets and impacted the lives of more than 40 million people in the last four years alone. We focus on strategically building an ICT ecosystem to deliver greater inclusion to the most vulnerable, with a special focus on enabling digital skills for digital jobs to address job creation, enhance competitiveness, and drive inclusive growth for the communities we serve.
It is said that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. At MTN, we take this to heart and are deliberate in ensuring our customers experience our inclusive culture at various touchpoints, such as retail outlets and service centres. ‘Leave no one behind’ is the central, transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and our drive to digitally include vulnerable members of society aligns closely with UNSDG 10: Reduced Inequalities.
Driven by our core belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life, MTN focuses on driving digital inclusion of all, with particular emphasis on vulnerable and marginalized groups. This includes women, children, youth, persons with disabilities, refugees, and rural citizens.
Spotlighting our specific efforts to drive inclusion of persons with disabilities is more critical than ever, given that, according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1.3 billion people, or 16% of the global population, experience a significant disability. Astonishingly, 80% of this demographic resides in low- and middle-income countries. Mobile devices and services offer life-changing benefits, enabling more independent living. Yet, GSMA research indicates that many persons with disabilities remain unconnected and digitally excluded. MTN is actively working across its markets to rectify this.
MTN Rwanda introduced a programme in partnership with the National Union of Disability Organisations of Rwanda. The aim is to make MTN’s service and products more accessible to persons living with disabilities and to find ways to raise awareness and support the initiatives of the different organisations. Through this initiative, MTN Rwanda included sign language communication in all its television advertisements and interpreters in its call centre to aid persons with disabilities via video calls.
MTN eSwatini has also joined this inclusive movement by training its frontline and contact centre staff in sign language. This training supports the government’s agenda to be more inclusive of people living with disabilities. Customers can directly reach MTN eSwatini at 76 061 954 and access special bundles designed for the differently abled. These services have led to a 62% increase in video-calling interactions at our contact centres in the latter half of 2022 alone.
In South Africa, MTN is piloting an innovative national relay service (NRS) to serve visually and hearing-impaired people. The system harnesses the power of technology to enable users to make and receive phone calls. The pilot project, in partnership with Convo South Africa – a deaf-owned company – aims to expand communication access for those who otherwise could not communicate via voice call, audio, or video. Depending on the type of call, an operator speaks, types, or uses sign language when facilitating calls for or between deaf, hard-of-hearing, or deafblind South Africans. This initiative has made contacting emergency services more efficient for over 2.8 million South Africans with hearing or speech impairments.
MTN Cameroon is increasing their efforts to employ people with disabilities, train and render technical support to ensure an inclusive retail experience. This initiative is currently being scaled to our other operating markets.
As we forge ahead, MTN remains steadfast in its commitment to bridging the digital divide and fostering an inclusive society. Through these initiatives, we’re connecting communities and enriching lives, one individual at a time.
In the heart of Africa, a digital revolution is quietly unfolding. While the world races ahead with 5G and smart cities, many in Rwanda find themselves on the other side of a digital chasm, separated not by lack of will or skill but by the simple yet significant barrier of smartphone affordability. MTN Rwanda, in a groundbreaking alliance with the Bank of Kigali, is changing that narrative through Macye Macye, a device financing programme designed to put the power of connectivity into the hands of every Rwandan. This initiative aligns closely with UNSDG 10 by democratising access to technology and reducing economic inequalities.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), or simply SDGs, have set a global agenda for creating a more sustainable and equitable world. Comprising 17 interconnected goals, the SDGs aim to address some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. Among these goals, UNSDG 10, also known as Goal 10, specifically focuses on reducing inequalities within and among countries. It recognises that the growing disparities in income, education, and access to essential services pose significant barriers to achieving a just and prosperous world.
According to GSMA, in Sub-Saharan Africa, Smartphone adoption reached 50% in 2022. Despite these gains, Sub-Saharan Africa still has the largest proportion of basic or feature phone connections (46%), followed by South Asia (27%). In other regions, basic or feature phone connections account for less than 15% of mobile connections. The smartphone ownership gender gaps continue to widen in Sub-Saharan Africa, with women being 37% less likely than men to own a smartphone compared to the 16% global average. The main barrier to smartphone ownership is smartphone affordability.
Tackling this significant obstacle head-on, the Macye Macye programme enables MTN customers to secure smartphones and tablets through credit options. These devices are readily available across a network of MTN service centres, franchisee locations, and other retail outlets. The programme’s streamlined approval and onboarding process allows customers to become smartphone owners for a daily cost as minimal as Rwf200.
Financially, the programme is designed with the consumer in mind. The Bank of Kigali, recently honoured as the ‘Best Bank in Rwanda 2022’ by Global Finance, uses a credit scoring system based on an individual’s telecom service purchases over the past year. This allows for a more personalised and fair financing option, in line with UNSDG 10’s focus on financial inclusion. Moreover, each device comes bundled with complimentary data, talk time, and SMSes, courtesy of MTN. Payment flexibility is another highlight; customers can opt for daily, weekly, or monthly payment plans, all facilitated seamlessly through Mobile Money.
The societal impact of Macye Macye is profound. In a nation where approximately 75% of the population does not own a smartphone, this programme is more than just a commercial venture; it’s a catalyst for change. It democratises internet access and serves as a stepping stone for Rwanda’s transition into a digitally innovative economy. The programme recently celebrated a significant milestone, connecting 100,000 Rwandans with affordable smartphones and, by extension, a wealth of information and opportunities.
While the focus is on Rwanda, the programme’s success offers valuable insights that could be replicated in other African markets, each with its unique challenges and opportunities. As we look to the future, MTN remains steadfast in its commitment to bridging the digital divide, not just in Rwanda but across the African continent. Through initiatives like Macye Macye, MTN continues to make meaningful strides in connecting communities, fostering economic growth, and elevating the quality of life for its customers.
 Source: GSMA Intelligence, The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2023, State of Mobile Internet Connectivty, 2022