MTN Group appoints Thato Motlanthe as its new IR executive

MTN Group has appointed Thato Motlanthe to the position of Executive for Investor Relations, with effect from 1 September 2019. Thato replaces Nik Kershaw who left MTN Group at the end of May 2019, and will report to Ralph Mupita, MTN Group CFO.

Thato brings to the role extensive experience of South African and global capital markets, having worked in both the sell-side and buy-side of equity capital markets. He joins MTN from Absa Asset Management, where he held the role of Portfolio Manager, co-managing the flagship funds within the Equities franchise. Prior to this, he has held senior positions at STANLIB Asset Management, Citigroup Global Markets and UBS Investment Bank over a career spanning 16 years.

“I am excited to join a company with an incredibly strong pan-African and Middle East footprint, great market positions and attractive assets. MTN Group is well positioned to capture growth from digital and financial inclusion”, said Thato.

Commenting on Thato’s appointment, MTN Group CFO Ralph Mupita said, “We are pleased to have secured someone of Thato’s experience and leadership profile. Thato will play a critical role in the management and building of the investor base for MTN Group, as well as ensuring that the communication of the investment case of our “Digital Operator” strategy remains clear and compelling for stakeholders.”

Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer

MTN Group today announces the appointment of Yolanda Cuba as Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer. Yolanda will join the MTN Group Executive Committee reporting to the Group CEO Rob Shuter. In this role Yolanda will lead the Group’s strategic expansion of its financial services and digital solutions efforts and transformation into a digital operator.

Yolanda brings extensive telecommunications and leadership experience to MTN Group. She joins MTN Group from Vodacom, where she served as Chief Officer of Strategy and M&A. She was previously the CEO of Vodafone Ghana for a three-year period, a role that saw her named Telecom CEO of the Year in 2018.

“This role gives me the opportunity to drive digital innovation and financial inclusion across the Group’s vast footprint. I’m really looking forward to the new challenge and being part of the MTN leadership team”, said Yolanda.

Rob Shuter said, “We are very pleased to bring an executive of Yolanda’s calibre into MTN Group. Yolanda is a highly qualified and experienced executive, with a unique combination of operational telecommunications experience as well as finance, financial services and digital skills. I am confident that Yolanda’s leadership will place us in good stead as we intensify our efforts to build a digital ecosystem and scale our fintech offering across our markets”.

Under Yolanda’s leadership, MTN will continue to progressively grow the fintech and digital opportunities in Africa as we see these areas as major drivers of our BRIGHT growth strategy. Yolanda’s start date will be communicated in due course.

MTN Group adds GlobalConnect to portfolio of Operating Companies

MTN Group has announced that GlobalConnect, the company’s wholesale infrastructure company, is now an operating company (Opco) of the group. The Opco, headquartered in Dubai, will continue to be led by current CEO Frédéric Schepens.

MTN GlobalConnect was established in 2017 as the main driver and commercial vehicle for the consolidation of MTN’s international and national major wholesale activities. To further enable its growth, and in line with the group’s strategic focus on wholesale, the operational structure of GlobalConnect was revised, resulting in its establishment as an Opco.

Commenting on the development, MTN Group COO, Jens Schulte-Bockum said, “I am pleased that after less than two years of operation, MTN GlobalConnect has exceeded expectations, growing its customer base and revenue ahead of targets. I have no doubt that the team, led by Frédéric will continue to build on their gains to drive value to our operations, and lead MTN’s ambition to build Africa’s leading wholesale company.”

Offering the most complete backbone network in Africa, the company provides reliable solutions for fixed connectivity and international mobile services and is the single-entry point to the largest network infrastructure on the continent.

Furthermore, the company’s robust and IP/MPLS network includes:

  • 47 multinational points of presence
  • 29 countries across the MEA region (Middle East & Africa)
  • 14 Submarine cables
  • More than 100 000km of national and metro fibre network
  • 31 multinational Network-to-Network interface enabling connectivity to global networks
  • A backbone capacity in excess of 3Tbps
  • Peering with major content providers

Driven by the belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life, GlobalConnect strives to enable services that create significant value for other MTN Opcos, partners and third parties looking to gain from the growing opportunities in the Middle East and Africa.

MTN Group launches Africa’s first artificial intelligence service for Mobile Money

MTN Group is proud to announce the launch of Africa’s first Mobile Money (MoMo) artificial intelligence service or “chatbot”. The chatbot went live in Ivory coast in May and will be rolled out across MTN’s MoMo footprint in the next few months.

The artificial intelligence mobile money “assistant” enables customers to engage with MTN’s MoMo services, including payments, on various social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and via SMS. The service will also be included over time, in MTN’s own newly released advanced instant messaging service “Ayoba”. The chatbot is an artificial intelligence guide that assists users to navigate MTN’s MoMo services and provide other useful information. This innovation leverages messaging and artificial intelligence to drive customer engagement and enhance their MTN MoMo experience.

Commenting on the launch, MTN Group President and CEO, Rob Shuter said, “We are passionate about bringing the power of our mobile money solutions to more than 60 million customers across Africa over the next few years. Harnessing modern technologies like artificial intelligence can improve in scale, how MTN interacts with customers, enabling them to reach us anytime and anywhere, through a variety of channels including social networks and messaging applications. We can also harness the power of artificial intelligence to provide our customers with the right answers to their questions at the right time.”

Shuter added, “We are committed to improving financial inclusion with a range of solutions aimed at addressing the needs of various market segments. While MTN has made great strides in these areas, we will continue working to deliver our vision for MTN to become one of the largest Fintech players across our footprint.”

MTN responds to Board change rumours

MTN Group (MTN) has noted recent media stories, based on a Bloomberg report, which carry unsubstantiated rumours and inaccuracies that the PIC is pushing for changes to the Board of MTN.

MTN regularly engages with its shareholders where we have robust, constructive, open and transparent discussions about the business. A key part of that engagement is the governance roadshow with investors that, over the last two years, has been held ahead of the AGM. During these roadshows MTN Group engages with the PIC and other major investors on matters of governance, strategy and financial performance.

With regard to the Bloomberg report concerning the MTN Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko, contrary to what the story alleges, the PIC requested that the board consider extending Phuthuma Nhleko’s term longer than he had originally intended to remain Chairman. MTN Group applied its mind on the request, and considering other issues around the board evolution, asked Phuthuma Nhleko to stay until the 15 December 2019 to ensure an orderly hand-over to the Chairman designate, Mcebisi Jonas.

The MTN board evolution and the setting up of the International Advisory Board (IAB) were communicated to shareholders and broader stakeholders on 3 May 2019 following a proposal by the nominations committee of the board and approved by the board as standard good governance. These changes were discussed with major shareholders during this year’s governance roadshow ahead of the 2019 AGM, with the PIC supportive of the changes.

The board evolution and rotation of non-executive directors was done in line with the King IV Guidelines and strengthens expertise and perspectives to ensure that the business has the appropriate skills and experience as the business executes on its strategy and ambition to be the leading digital operator in Africa and the Middle East. The process of the board evolution has been ongoing and was commented on in the 2017 Integrated Report released last year.

Similarly, the primary purpose of the IAB is to provide general global and/or sector specific perspectives that may enrich the perspectives of the operating company’s Board as it strives to contribute to certain areas of development in the countries in which it operates.

The construct of an IAB is one that is adopted by a number of global multinationals that operate in varied and multiple jurisdictions across the world.

While this is not prevalent in South African domiciled companies, such Boards advise a number of global companies quoted on major global bourses. The IAB was conceptualised by the MTN Board before the PIC increased its shareholding in MTN.

MTN Group remains appreciative of the support it has always had from the PIC as a major and long-standing shareholder of the business.

MTN employees empower youth during 21 Days of Y’ello Care

Africa and the Middle East, which are home to MTN’s 21 markets are characterised by an ever-increasing youthful population. While this dynamic presents exciting potential, it also poses some challenges, one of which is youth unemployment.

It is against this backdrop that MTN hosts its 13th edition of 21 Days of Y’ello Care, its annual employee volunteerism programme which runs from 1 to 21 June across the company’s footprint. MTN recognises the enormous potential that young people have to drive economic growth and help their communities to thrive. Hence the company will continue with youth empowerment as its theme for the 2019 Y’ello Care campaign.

Commenting on the campaign, MTN Group Executive for Corporate Affairs, Nompilo Morafo, said: “We believe that if we all join forces, youth empowerment can be realised and the prevalence of youth unemployment eradicated. Our goal for this year’s Y’ello Care programme is to do our part to support young people and help tackle various issues they face.”

Morafo adds, “As the leading mobile operator in emerging markets and given our understanding of the transformative power of digital innovation, we constantly seek opportunities to connect people with technology, so that all our stakeholders can enjoy the dividends of the digital age. As we embark on the Forth Industrial Revolution, we wish to help equip the youth with the skills and knowledge they require to effectively prepare themselves for the digital future.”

Some initiatives that MTN’s operations will engage in include: the establishment of an ICT hub for youth by MTN Business Kenya, computer skills training and an entrepreneurship fair hosted by MTN Benin, aimed at supporting young people to improve their employability. MTN Cameroon’s employees will help construct a multi-disciplinary skills enhancement training centre, while employees in Afghanistan will build a network-based research centre for students in the Information and Communication Technology Institute.

All participating Opcos stand in line to win monetary prizes, which are to be re-invested into community upliftment programmes in their market. These include the Group President & CEO prize of US$100 000, while the two recipients of the Vice President regional awards will each receive US $30 000.

MTN Uganda CEO update

MTN confirms that the President of the Republic of Uganda, His Excellency, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has exercised executive discretion to permit MTN CEO, Wim Vanhelleputte’s unconditional return to Uganda.

MTN wishes to express its gratitude to His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Uganda and all stakeholders for their support and goodwill for making this possible.

MTN Uganda is a law-abiding corporate citizen and is committed to continue to play its part in the development of Uganda.

MTN named most admired African brand

MTN is thrilled to announce that it has been named the most admired brand by Brand Africa 100, based on spontaneous consumer responses.

The seventh annual Brand Africa 100 report was released on 24 May 2019, featuring the top 100 most admired brands in Africa.

Ranked number eight in the top 100 most admired brands in Africa, MTN is the only African brand in the top 10, as well as the most admired telecommunications brand on the continent. Furthermore, within the financial services category, MTN Mobile Money is in the Top 20 at number 19, up one position from 2018. MTN is also the overall number one brand in Rwanda and Liberia, and the number one Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed brand in the Brand Africa 100 rankings.

Brand Africa 100 is a pan-African survey and ranking of Africa’s Best Brands developed by Brand Leadership. The rankings are based on a comprehensive survey by Geopoll, a global leader in providing high quality market research in emerging markets, and strategic analysis and weighted consumer admiration ranking by Kantar, the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company and Brand Leadership, Africa’s leading branding and integrated marketing communications advisory.

The 2018/19 study surveyed consumers from 25 countries in Africa (12 of which are MTN markets). Together these countries represent 85% of Africa’s population and 85% of GDP.

Commenting on the accolade, Bernice Samuels, MTN Group Executive for Marketing said, “This is such an honour for MTN and I wish to thank our customers on the continent for their support over the years, which has seen us being ranked as the most admired African Brand yet again.”

Samuels adds, “With Africa being a young continent, young Africans want to experience a modern, digital, connected life. We are doing everything we can to make this a reality by leading the delivery of a bold new digital world in ways that are relevant to our customers.”

“MTN is committed to brightening lives every day by being a responsive, customer and community focused company.  Through the MTN Foundations we work together with communities to create opportunities to advance growth and development by supporting health and education initiatives and national development priorities. We are also working hard to deliver the best customer experience in voice, data, digital and financial services so that consumers across our footprint continue to choose us as their most admired and preferred brand.”

MTN’s Bernice Samuels Interviewed by African Business

Telecoms companies have dominated the marketing landscape these past 15 years. We spoke to Bernice Samuels, chief marketing officer at MTN, about the group’s strategy when it comes to branding and marketing and where it fits within the company.

Where does branding fit in from a strategic standpoint?

As MTN we believe that a brand is as a brand does, so our branding is strategically significant, not just to drive awareness, recognition and recall but also in defining our customers experiences. So our brand positioning of BRIGHTER LIVES informs everything we design, build and deliver.

How important would you say branding is to the African consumer?

African consumers are no different from other consumers in their aspirations and expectations of brands. We are all human, and want things to be easy, personal, and give us some control delivering good quality, value, affordability, innovation and access. This being said, MTN is a brand born in Africa, and we want to reflect our African origins in how we go to market.

How important is being an African brand?

With Africa being a young continent, young Africans want to live a modern, connected life. We want to be second to none in shaping and making this possible. We want to lead a modern digital life experience in ways that are relevant to the African context. In enabling this, we believe that we will be the consumers’ choice, not only because we are an African brand, but also the very best at what we do in Africa.

You are at the forefront of technology and the new digital space. What are the main tools needed to build a brand; have they changed materially since you launched all those years ago?

Yes and no. We believe that the discipline of marketing is always about putting the customer at the centre of what you do. So it’s vital to diagnose the market, understand needs and meet these in a distinctive and differentiated way versus competitors. The channels at our disposal are indeed changing, with social media storefronts, instant messaging, mobile responsive web etc, which expand our route to market for our product and services and thus the design approach in constructing our marketing messages.

You operate in over 20 countries. Do you adapt the messaging to the different markets or is there one singular message that you like to put out there?

We have the same brand positioning as a mother brand in every market in which we operate. What differs are the operational and marketing tactics on the ground which must be locally relevant and resonate with consumers.

MTN Group appoints Lele Modise as Group Chief Legal Counsel

Johannesburg – MTN Group announced today that it has appointed Kelebogile (Lele) Modise as its new Group Chief Legal Counsel. Lele will report to Group President and CEO Rob Shuter and will join MTN Group’s Executive Committee.

Lele joins MTN from Absa, where she was Head of the Transaction Management Group (TMG), responsible for the delivery of end-to-end deal execution services, consisting of legal structuring and solutioning, deal administration, deal co-ordination and post-deal management services.

Lele began her career at Bell Dewar & Hall (now Fasken Martineau) and was admitted to the High Court as an attorney in 2003. She went on to be a partner at Bowman Gilfillan, specialising in Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions.

She is skilled in the areas of capital markets and securities law, banking and finance, corporate and commercial law, mergers and acquisitions and private equity. Lele has also worked extensively across Africa.

Lele holds a Masters in Banking Law from UNISA, a B.Proc (LLB Exemption) from the University of Pretoria and certificates in Securities Law as well as Banking Law and Financial Markets.

She will be replacing MTN Group Chief Legal Counsel, Michael Fleischer, who will be retiring from MTN at the end of July 2019.  Lele’s start date will be announced in due course.

Michael has been part of the MTN family since 2014 and is a respected member of the Group Executive team, having provided invaluable guidance and insights as the company navigated some of its most challenging times as a business.

Rob Shuter said, “We are so pleased to welcome Lele on board. We feel fortunate as a company to have someone with her calibre and experience joining our leadership team. We have no doubt that she will be an asset to our organisation.”

“What stood out to us about Lele was her extensive insight and expertise in navigating Pan-African and cross border strategic investments and transactions. Her passion for the continent and its development is evident through the strategic work that she has done throughout her career. As a leading emerging market operator, we believe that this passion will go a long way in helping us to achieve our strategy and positioning within the markets in which we operate.”

Shuter added “We wish to thank Michael for the skill and commitment he has shown in heading up the Group Legal team over the past five years. Michael has been a huge support to MTN over that period and to me personally and we wish him the very best as he embarks on this new chapter in his life.”