Africa CDC and MTN accelerate fight against COVID-19 with “OneMorePush” campaign

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and pan-African operator MTN Group today launched a joint campaign – “One More Push – to encourage people across the continent to not give up in the fight against COVID-19, and to continue to wear their masks, wash their hands and practice social distancing.

With third and fourth waves of COVID-19 sweeping across parts of Africa, we cannot overstate the importance of everyone doing their best right now to keep the virus at bay,” says Africa CDC Director, Dr John Nkengasong. “This campaign aims to encourage people to keep practising the preventative measures we know can limit the spread of COVID-19.”

The awareness campaign is an extension of the African Union’s ‘Adapted Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 Pandemic’ endorsed by Africa’s Health Ministers and aligned to the ‘Prevent, Monitor and Treat’ approach. It is also an extension of the partnership between the Africa CDC and MTN, which includes the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to health workers across the continent through the Group’s US$25 million donation.

“One More Push” is a renewed drive to encourage the public not to give up now. It asks that all of us keep our masks on, wash or sanitise our hands, and maintain a physical distance from each other until it is safe to no longer do so. In this way, we will be able to get back to the ‘old normal’ (or the best possible version of it) sooner rather than later.

The “One More Push” campaign is about encouraging the people of Africa to remain vigilant in fighting COVID-19, at a time when we are experiencing new waves of infections, and vaccination progress towards herd immunity is still some time away for our people.” says MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita, noting that MTN’s fortunes were closely tied to the health and prosperity of the continent.

A key part of the campaign is onemorepushafrica.com, a digital content hub of credible and authoritative third-party content covering all things related to COVID-19. This includes facts around getting vaccinated, advice from leading healthcare bodies and medical experts, and important information from the Africa CDC.

As we continue with the distribution of vaccines across the continent, we all need to keep focused on overcoming COVID-19,” said Dr Nkengasong. “We implore all of Africa’s people to keep it up – let’s all give it one more push.

Visit onemorepushafrica.com for trustworthy content around vaccinations and the virus and to let us know what you are keeping your mask up for. Follow the #OneMorePushAfrica conversation on social media.

MTN JOINS NEW GLOBAL COALITION TO REACH ONE BILLION PEOPLE AND DRIVE GREEN ACTIONS

  • MTN Group has today joined ‘Every Action Counts’, a new coalition to connect experts in nature conservation and climate change with some of the world’s leading digital platforms, financial institutions and consumer goods firms.
  • Ambitious aim to empower 1 billion digital green champions by 2025. Founding partners include: Ant Group, BBVA, Dana, FNZ, GCash, Mastercard, MTN, Sanlam and Telenor Microfinance Bank.
  • “Nature provides the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, but we have not been so kind in return. I welcome this coalition aiming to empower 1 billion people to become part of creating a world where everyday actions and choices combat climate change and end biodiversity loss. As we embark on the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, putting people at the centre of the green transition is key,” says Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UN Environment Programme, a supporter of Every Action Counts.  

(Monday 28 June 2021). MTN Group has today joined a new global partnership to harness the power of green consumer behaviours to enhance biodiversity and climate efforts. The ‘Every Action Counts’ (EAC) coalition is launched today by the Green Digital Finance Alliance (GDFA), funded by the Finance for Biodiversity (F4B) initiative of the MAVA Foundation

The EAC brings together a global network of digital, financial, e-commerce, and consumer goods and services companies with experts in sustainability, and nature and biodiversity conservation. The new network will share best practices in encouraging individuals to take positive actions in daily life to create planet-friendly outcomes. Each coalition member will endeavour to pursue locally relevant approaches to driving sustainable consumer behaviours by advancing people-centric, tech-enabled and innovation-oriented engagement models.

The coalition holds the potential to scale green action as a norm which is encouraged, recognised and rewarded leveraging technology and innovation models.

Examples of this work in practice include:

  • Philippines-based GCash forest, which rewards app users who reduce their carbon footprint by planting trees in partnership with groups such as WWF.
  • Mastercard is uniting its global network of businesses and consumers in climate action through the Priceless Planet Coalition reforestation initiative. The company is also collaborating with partners to create innovative digital products that provide insights about the carbon impact of purchases and enable people to easily contribute to preserving the environment.
  • Ant Forest, a green initiative on the Alipay platform that encourages users to adopt low carbon activities in daily life, such as going to work by bus instead of by car, and paying utility bills online instead of offline. The initiative has enabled the planting of over 220 million trees in less than five years.

The coalition aims to promote knowledge sharing to inspire innovative green tech solutions around the world, helping each payment platform and consumer goods company to focus on the green behaviours most relevant to their audience.

Nompilo Morafo, Group Executive: Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, at launch partner MTN said: “As MTN works to drive greater digital and financial inclusion, we recognise the importance of reducing our impact on the environment and balancing this to ensure more people are connected daily. We take a conservative approach to the use of energy, plastic, water and other resources through demand reduction, refurbishment, recycling and upcycling. For us, Every Action Counts enable us to offer our customers access to opportunities towards greener lifestyles and green job opportunities which can unlock the green economy across our markets.”

Marianne Haahr, spokesperson for the ‘Every Action Counts’ coalition and Executive Director of Green Digital Finance Alliance, said: “This new coalition wants to creatively leverage technology and partnerships to enhance green awareness and catalyse green action for 1 billion people by 2025. We want to encourage consumer behaviour that can become a driver of nature conservation and regeneration.

“We see a future where economic growth can coexist with, and even support, nature conservation and climate action, which is why we are bringing together partners who can help champion this vision for our global economy.”

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UN Environment Programme, a supporter of ‘Every Action Counts’ said: “Nature provides the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, but we have not been so kind in return. I welcome this coalition aiming to empower 1 billion people to become part of creating a world where everyday actions and choices combat climate change and end biodiversity loss. As we embark on the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, putting people at the centre of the green transition is key.”

Launch partners are: Ant Group (China), BBVA (Spain), BigPay (Malaysia), DANA (Indonesia), FNZ (UK), GCash (Philippines), Lazada Group (Singapore), Mastercard (US), MTN Group (South Africa), Paytm (India), SANLAM (South Africa), and Telenor Microfinance Bank (Pakistan).

Experts working with the coalition include Siegmar Otto, a leading researcher on sustainable consumer behaviour and human-computer interaction; Professor Richard Wood of the Industrial Ecology Programme at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology); and environmental engineer Francesca Verones, also at NTNU.

MTN statement: Complaint for violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act in Iraq.

On 22 June 2021 a complaint for violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act (the “Complaint”) was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The Complaint was filed on behalf of American service members and civilians, and their families, who were killed or wounded in Iraq between 2011 and 2016.

The Complaint alleges that telecom companies indirectly supported the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps by, inter alia, doing business with Iranian companies. The defendants named in the complaint are two different telecoms one of which is MTN and certain of its affiliates including Irancell (MTN holds 49% equity interest in Irancell).

MTN is reviewing the details of the complaint and is consulting its advisers but remains of the view that it conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and so intends to defend its position where necessary.

MTN Group is committed to continued compliance with all applicable laws and continues to monitor all developments to ensure it acts in accordance with applicable laws.

MTN NIGERIA ASSIGNED HIGHEST POSSSIBLE CREDIT RATINGS BY CGR, OUTLOOK STABLE

We are pleased to announce that Global Credit Ratings (GCR) has upgraded the national scale long-term issuer rating of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTN Nigeria) to AAA and affirmed the national scale short-term rating of A1+, with a stable outlook. In addition, GCR upgraded the national scale long-term rating of the recently concluded N110 billion Series 1 Senior Unsecured Bond to AAA with a stable outlook.

These represent the highest possible long-term and short-term ratings on GCR’s national rating scale, and MTN Nigeria is the first mobile network operator in Africa to be accorded such ratings by GCR.

According to GCR, “the ratings accorded to MTN Nigeria reflect its very strong competitive position as the leading provider of telecommunications services in Nigeria, as well as its strong earnings and cash flow which has supported a robust financial profile.” Commenting on the rating, Karl Toriola, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, said, “We are delighted with the outcome of the GCR rating. This demonstrates the resilience of our business and positions MTN Nigeria as the benchmark of reference for the information and communications technology sector for long-dated, fixed-term instruments. As we continue to invest in our network and strengthen our risk management processes, we remain focused on sustaining and accelerating growth in line with our Ambition 2025 strategy“.

MTN commits to expanding broadband access across Nigeria

MTN Nigeria plans to invest 640 billion naira (approximately US$1.5 billion) over the next three years to expand broadband access across the continent’s most populous country, in line with the federal government’s 2020-2025 National Broadband Plan and in support of MTN Group’s strategy, Ambition 2025: Leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress.

Nigeria is one of our most important markets. We have a proud history of partnering with Nigeria and Nigerians to drive faster and more inclusive growth through digital transformation,” said MTN Group President and Chief Executive Officer Ralph Mupita after a three-day visit to Abuja and Lagos, in which he met a number of key stakeholders.

These included President Muhammadu Buhari; Vice President Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo; Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr Isa Ali Pantami;  Executive Vice Chairman Prof Umar Garba Danbatta; as well as Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele.

The MTN Group President – who was accompanied by MTN Group Chief Financial Officer Tsholo Molefe, MTN Nigeria Chairman Ernest Ndukwe and MTN Nigeria CEO Karl Toriola – reiterated MTN’s support for Nigeria’s plans to secure 90% broadband population coverage by 2025. This aligns with MTN Group’s belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life and our work to extend digital and financial inclusion across Africa.

The delegation welcomed Nigeria’s plans to auction 500MHz of 5G spectrum: five blocks of 100MHz in the 3500MHz band, which Mupita said would facilitate accelerated broadband access.

He said MTN Group’s plans to sell down 14% of MTN Nigeria to Nigerian investors were well advanced and this would happen as soon as conditions were conducive. MTN Nigeria, in which MTN Group has a 78,8% stake, sought to have the largest retail shareholder base on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, where it has a market capitalisation of 3.4 trillion naira (US$8.2 billion).

To mark the 20th anniversary of MTN’s operations in Nigeria, MTN Nigeria plans to build a new flagship headquarters in Lagos,” concluded Mupita.

MTN Group advances women leadership with new MTN Guinea-Bissau CEO

MTN Group is pleased to announce the appointment of Eliane Houphouet-Boigny as the CEO of MTN Guinea-Bissau, effective 1 July 2021, the latest woman to take the helm at an MTN operation.

I would like to welcome Eliane to the MTN family and look forward to her taking MTN Guinea-Bissau to new heights, as we work to lead digital solutions for Africa’s progress,” said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita.

Eliane is a seasoned professional with a career spanning more than 20 years, and experience across multiple markets in Europe and Africa. Most recently, she held several leadership roles at Nestlé, including Head of Innovation, Head of Business Transformation and Head of Operational Excellence & Continuous Improvement.

Eliane holds two Master’s degrees, one in Chemical Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Switzerland) and another in Strategic Management from HEC School of Management in Paris.

She takes over the reins from Freddie Mokoena, who has been CEO of MTN Guinea-Bissau since September 2013.

‘I’d like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to Freddie. He has done an amazing job in leading the team over the past 8 years. Freddie steered the team through a period of amazing growth, and I am deeply thankful for his invaluable guidance and contribution to MTN,’ said Mupita.

MTN has been present in Guinea-Bissau since 2005 and has around 900 000 subscribers.

MTN to launch OpenRAN in Africa

MTN Group is leveraging our expansive footprint across Africa to test and ultimately deploy OpenRAN – an innovative  technology that will enable us to launch new services more quickly, cost-effectively and seamlessly, supporting our strategy, Ambition 2025: Leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress.

We plan to modernise our radio access networks using OpenRAN. This is in line with one of five vital enablers of our strategy: to build technology platforms that are second to none, thereby allowing for the rapid expansion of 4G and 5G population coverage across our markets.

With up-to-date technology, we can expect a reduction in our power consumption and associated carbon emissions. This, in turn, supports our plans to decarbonise our network and achieve net zero emissions by 2040, our Project Zero.

OpenRAN allows for the disaggregation of hardware and software elements of a network, enabling telcos to build a network using components with the same specifications and scale from a diverse base of vendors. A disruptive trend, it is gaining popularity as the industry seeks to promote an open and interoperable ecosystem between various vendors.

We at MTN aim to roll this out by the end of 2021 in collaboration with our partners Altiostar, Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, TechMahindra and Voyage.

As an early adopter, MTN first rolled out open-source technology in 2019 to improve rural coverage. This was in line with our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. To date, we have deployed over 1 100 commercial sites in more than 11 countries and were among the pioneers of open-source adoption, facilitating cost-effective deployment in unconnected areas.

For all mobile network operators, radio access network (RAN) makes up the bulk of capital and operating costs. By applying OpenRAN, MTN targets further innovation and cost efficiencies.

At MTN we are alive to the potential of open interfaces. There is a lot of value that dominant players bring to the business, but telecommunications today is as much about the stability of the network as it is about new services,” says MTN Group Chief Technology and Information Officer Charles Molapisi. “Customers measure us against the speed with which we can deploy the latest technology and we are committed to finding faster and better ways to do that.”

The many benefits of OpenRAN include diversifying the vendor landscape, disrupting the cost flow, and removing dependencies on proprietary suppliers. It also promises cost savings and flexibility as it allows operators to use generic hardware and open interfaces. It enables a so-called ‘Lego architecture’ where many different vendors supply the components and software products that together make the end-to-end radio network work. By modernising the network, we reduce our power consumption and emissions in support of our Project Zero. 

While OpenRAN brings a new architecture to mobile networks and more suppliers to deal with, it gives telcos much-needed flexibility,” says Amith Maharaj, MTN Group Executive: Network Planning and Design. “This means that MTN can now look at building a network that can meet cost and capacity requirements of specific markets, or even rapidly deploy 5G and/or 4G seamlessly with existing legacy services. This is a real game-changer for mobile advancement in emerging markets.”   

While the technology is still in its early days and widespread adoption is likely years away, MTN has already collaborated with a number of global players to reap the benefits and trigger innovation. In efforts to drive OpenRAN standardisation, we are also participating in Facebook’s Telecom Infra Project.

Early adoption gives us the ability to improve and deploy appropriate network architecture underpinned by technology, both tried and tested, and disruptive, to ensure we continue to deliver an exceptional experience, and ultimately play our part in harnessing the power of technology to lead digital solutions for Africa’s progress,” concludes Molapisi. 

MTN Uganda to deploy TIP DCSG at scale to advance network automation

MTN Uganda and several members of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) have signed an agreement that will advance network automation using TIP’s Disaggregated Cell Site Gateway (DCSG).

This first of its kind network deployment in Africa will see MTN evolve its Transport Network and turn it into a future-proof asset that will seamlessly enable its network transition to 5G. Transport Network transmits data traffic between points within a network that enable access to the internet. Through Ambition 2025, MTN’s strategic blueprint, Network-as-a-Service (Naas) is one of five scale platforms for growth that contribute to leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress.

DCSGs ultimately provide connectivity between (Mobile sites and Enterprises) and the core network, which is what users access to connect to the internet. DCSG at these cell sites will see the hardware and software de-coupled, allowing greater flexibility in upgrading software and configuration. Typically, cell site hardware and software are aggregated, requiring wholesale replacement to upgrade the transport network.

For the Uganda deployment, Aviat will oversee the deployment of this DCSG solution using Network Operating Software (NOS) provided by ADVA, running on Edgecore Hardware. This solution in Uganda is a flagship development in accelerating connectivity in Africa, by enabling faster network roll-out to expand connectivity, a more stable and quicker network with reduced latency, providing users best-in-class connectivity to the internet.

“We are very excited about the potential of the DCSG solution. It promises to broaden our supplier market, expedite the development of new features, reduce capital expenditure, improve operational efficiencies through easier scalable and more features open networking ecosystem,” says Ali Monzer, CTIO, MTN Uganda. “To advance our service offering to our subscribers we continue to innovate and evolve our networks to support the increasing demand of higher capacity. In collaborating with the TIP community partners, we are not only able to innovate as a community, but also deploy leading technologies such as the DCSG to advance our network automation objectives.”

“This large-scale deployment of the DCSG in MTN Uganda is testament to our commitment to accelerate automation of MTN’s Transport Network,” says Lloyd Mphahlele, MTN Group General Manager responsible for the Transport Network.

“We are delighted to work with MTN on their network evolution journey. As Aviat, we are committed to bring innovation and simplicity to MTN’s network. In collaboration with our TIP community partners Adva and Edgecore, the MTN Uganda network will be a showcase operation of automated, intelligent, and always on network. A real network of the future” says Peter Smith, CEO of Aviat Networks.

“TIP’s DCSG will accelerate MTN in its evolution towards a more open disaggregated, standard-based transport network that will meet future customer needs and enable a more simplified, scalable, and agile network operating model. This collaboration with MTN is one more example of the role TIP is playing as a vehicle to accelerate testing and deployment of open network solutions in Africa, and as a catalyst for innovation. The solution provided by ADVA and Edgecore has gone through a lab validation as part of the TIP process to ensure its maturity,” says David Hutton, TIP’s Chief Engineer.

DCSG was developed within TIP’s Open Optical and Packet Transport (OOPT) Project Group. The TIP DCSG solution uses open, standard-based, disaggregated network technologies to target several opportunities in operators’ IP aggregation networks. These include overall deployment cost reductions and the creation of a more diverse supply chain, as well as operational efficiencies from being able to use Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technologies for network management automation.

MTN announced its collaboration with the TIP community to build transport products and network configurations that enable the company’s ambitions in world-class network capabilities.

MTN Group scoops African brand awards, named most helpful private sector brand during pandemic

MTN Group’s brand is growing from strength to strength, evidenced by its top rankings in two separate independent brand surveys released this week.

MTN remains the ‘Most Admired African Brand’ in the Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands 2021 survey published on Tuesday. The survey covers 28 countries representing 80% of the continent’s population as well as 80% of its GDP.

For the 10th year running, MTN was also named as the most valuable and strongest South African brand by Brand Finance, which gave the Group a brand value of R44.8 billion in its South Africa 50 2021 survey released on Monday.

“MTN’s work to achieve the best brand in our markets is part of ensuring that we offer the leading customer experience. This is a vital enabler of our Ambition 2025 strategy,” said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita, adding that 15 of the Group’s 21 operations boasted their market’s highest net promoter scores.

I would like to thank every one of our 278 million subscribers for trusting us to deliver the communication and digital services they need. We take seriously your customer experience, and strive every day to live our core belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. I would also like to acknowledge MTN’s 19 300 people who work tirelessly to further digital and financial inclusion across our markets.”

This year, Brand Africa’s survey included a new category – brands which were perceived to have been helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. MTN was named the number one private sector brand in this category and followed the World Health Organization in the overall rankings.

During COVID-19, the Group worked to keep people connected and informed. In a unique public/private partnership in early 2021, MTN donated US$25 million to the African Union’s vaccination programme to secure COVID-19 vaccines for the continent’s health workers.

The Group also worked with host nations to support the Africa COVID Communications and Information Platform and launched the #WearItForMe mask campaign to encourage people everywhere to protect each other.

MTN Group’s President Ralph Mupita pays courtesy visit to the Ghana stock exchange

The Group President and CEO of MTN, Ralph Mupita has saluted the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) for its role in the ‘Ghana Cares’ national socio-economic priorities that is going to be critical for Ghana’s development going forward.

“We are encouraged by the progress we have seen in the development and deepening of the capital markets in Ghana”, Mr Mupita said. He noted that “capital formation and capital markets are critical in economic development of countries. We salute the ‘Ghana Cares’ national socio-economic priorities that is going to be critical to Ghana’s development going forward”.

He made the remarks on Tuesday 18 May 2021 when he visited the GSE to pay a courtesy call on the Managing Director, Mr. Ekow Afedzi, as part of a three-day working visit to one of MTN Group’s key markets. He also used the opportunity to get a first-hand account of the performance of Scancom Plc (MTN Ghana) shares since the Initial Public Offer (IPO) in 2018.

Mr. Mupita was grateful for the support MTN Ghana had received since its listing on the bourse. “On behalf of the MTN Group we would like to thank the GSE for the support we have received since listing in September 2018”, he said.

MTN Ghana’s performance on the Ghana Stock Exchange in 2021 has been nothing short of excellence, accounting for 86% and 77% of total volume and value traded on the Ghana Stock Exchange as at 18 May 2021. The company’s share price has gained 49 pesewas this year representing a year to date return of 76.6%.

The MD of the GSE, Mr. Ekow Afedzi applauded MTN Ghana’s stellar performance. He commended the company for being the most liquid and driver of liquidity on the market. 

MTN Ghana listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange in 2018 and is the third largest company by market capitalization. This represents about 23% of the total market capitalization of the listings on the Ghana Stock Exchange.

The MTN Group CEO was accompanied on his visit to the GSE by the VP for MTN WECA Region, Mr Ebenezer Asante, Chief Enterprise Business Officer, Mr Sam Addo representing Selorm Adadevoh Chief Executive Officer, and the Chief Corporate Services Officer, Mr Samuel Koranteng.