Case Study Category: Eco-responsibility

Transforming challenges into environmental Opportunities

Uganda’s economic growth over the last two decades has led to increased population growth, stressing the existing water and sanitation services. Over 80% of the Ugandan population lacks access to clean, drinkable, or usable water.

In a country where water services and sanitation are stressed, the MTN Uganda team recognised the significance of tapping into a natural water resource at its disposal. The expansion of the MTN Uganda facilities, during COVID-19, resulted in a water management issue with an existing spring in the path of the building plan. MTN Uganda reframed this challenge. They redirected the excess spring water to the reserve water tank, utilised the resource for onsite irrigation of the property, and increased their ablution facilities, which were then supplied with water from the spring. This initiative saves approximately 20% of
water costs.

MTN Uganda also participated in the MTN water baseline assessment and, in line with recommendations, has commenced with water consumption monitoring across our buildings, data centres, and stores. Monitoring our water consumption is the foundation for responsible and sustainable water management. It will empower informed decision-making and promote our conservation efforts, benefiting the environment and cost containment. Water conservation is vital for ensuring a sustainable future.

Africa’s rising temperatures and resource scarcity pose a significant challenge but also an under-explored strategic opportunity. Young Africans, particularly vulnerable and innovative, are key to a ‘just transition’ – one that tackles climate change while fostering socioeconomic development. By supporting youth-led climate ventures, we can secure a resilient future for Africa, establish ourselves as a sustainability leader, and unlock new markets driven by innovative solutions.

MTN is supporting and encouraging young climate entrepreneurs through our Africa PachiPanda Challenge. This initiative encourages SMEs and youth to create new ideas that tackle current environmental challenges and promote sustainability using digital innovations. We are replicating and scaling the PachiPanda Challenge in 2022 held by MTN Zambia which was delivered through a partnership between MTN Zambia and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). The Group is scaling a similar programme across the continent for MTN markets to engage, as part of our climate entrepreneurship mandate and in line with the Group-wide sustainability strategy. The first round will include South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda and Zambia, followed by an African final.

Africa’s climate entrepreneurship scene presents a compelling strategic opportunity. These innovative ventures are at the forefront of tackling the continent’s environmental challenges, developing cutting‑edge solutions with the potential to transform Africa’s sustainability landscape. Through strategic partnerships or investments in these ventures, we can support emerging technologies specific to local market needs and contribute to a more resilient and sustainable Africa that reinforces our commitment to responsible business practices.

Top honours in the PachiPanda Challenge 2023 went to Isaac Mwanza, a visionary student at Mulungushi University and founder of EcoBuild. His initiative converts copper slag to stronger and cheaper cement. The second prize was awarded to New Tech, a venture promoting community recyclable material collection, while the third prize recognised generating renewable electricity and byproducts from waste.

Ultimately, by supporting African climate entrepreneurs, we not only contribute to a better future for the continent, but also solidify our market position as a leader in sustainable solutions.

Africa Fights Back: Early Warnings for 300 Million People

Millions in Africa face the brunt of extreme weather. But a powerful new alliance is changing the game. MTN Group,, and Microsoft are joining forces to deliver life-saving early warnings directly to mobile phones across the continent. This means over 300 million people will get critical weather information using cutting-edge technology like satellite monitoring and artificial intelligence.

Africa: Rising Climate Threat & Extreme Weather

Africa is bearing the brunt of climate change, experiencing a surge of extreme weather events. Since 2022, devastating floods and droughts have caused immense hardship. In Nigeria, the worst floods in a decade claimed over 600 lives, while Uganda grappled with drought and famine, leading to over 2,500 deaths.

The stark difference in disaster preparedness saves lives. According to the UN, countries lacking early warning systems experience an 85% higher death rate from disasters compared to those with robust systems. Alarmingly, 60% of Africa lacks such systems. The recent Kwa-Zulu Natal floods in South Africa illustrate the dangers.

Torrential rains caused casualties, destroyed homes, and crippled infrastructure, leading to severe economic losses. MTN South Africa’s network was heavily impacted by the floods, compounded by damaged roads and power outages. Despite limited access, their tireless efforts restored connectivity.

Early warning systems are crucial for saving lives, protecting infrastructure, and promoting long-term sustainability in the face of climate change and extreme weather events like the KZN floods.

Tech Alliance Aims to Save Lives in Africa with Hyperlocal Weather Alerts This partnership focuses on creating a system that delivers critical weather information directly to vulnerable communities across Africa. By combining cutting-edge technology, the initiative aims to:

The goal is to provide clear and timely notifications about severe weather events, allowing communities to take preventative measures like evacuation or preparation. This collaborative effort has the potential to significantly reduce the impact of disasters and save lives across Africa.

Beyond Early Warnings: Building Resilience in Africa

This collaboration between, MTN Group, and Microsoft goes beyond simply delivering early warnings. It aims to transform how African communities prepare for and adapt to a changing climate.

Empowering Communities:

Scaling the Impact:

A Leap Forward:

This partnership represents a significant advancement. By harnessing cutting-edge
technologies (satellite monitoring, AI, mobile networks, and cloud computing), it empowers
vulnerable populations and contributes to a more resilient Africa in the face of climate change

Recognizing the far-reaching environmental impact of plastics, MTN Rwanda is actively committed to reducing plastic use throughout our operations and product offerings. In 2023, we embarked on a groundbreaking initiative to replace traditional plastic SIM cards with a more sustainable and biodegradable alternative. This decision reflects our dedication to responsible innovation that aligns with global efforts to combat the plastic waste crisis.

We are meticulously investigating a range of materials to find the optimal solution for this sustainable SIM card transformation. Our commitment extends beyond simply changing the SIM card material. We are carefully considering impacts on customer devices and the planet. As part of this comprehensive due diligence, we will require FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification for all forest-based materials used in the manufacturing process. This internationally recognized certification ensures that our SIM card suppliers prioritize responsibly managed forests, protecting biodiversity and promoting long-term sustainability.

Importantly, the paper-based SIM holders will not interfere with handset operation in any way. We have thoroughly evaluated potential risks and ensured that the design will deliver seamless connectivity for our customers. We are thrilled to launch this innovative and environmentally conscious product in 2024, contributing to a greener future for the telecommunications industry.

The three BTS sites, Jacana, Paludar and Konge, were originally powered by landlord generators and consumed fuel. The continuous operations (24/7) resulted in environmental pollution from emissions and ambient noise, in addition to high operating costs. The Konge BTS site had low availability, which impacted user experience while the Paludar and Jacana BTS sites had high operating costs as a result of the continuous use of the generator.

The implemented solar solution eliminated the need for continuous generator use, resulting in reduced fuel consumption. We saved over 5 100 litres of fuel across all sites. Additional benefits include:

We faced challenges during implementation, including:

The adoption of solar power at BTS sites facilitates infrastructure development in regions lacking traditional power sources. These reliable, solar-powered BTS sites enable the expansion of telecommunication networks into remote and underserved areas, promoting economic growth and social inclusion. Improved connectivity provides access to information, education, healthcare and economic opportunities, empowering communities and driving local development. Overall, this initiative has the potential to spur economic growth, promote environmental sustainability and enhance overall resilience and connectivity within communities.

We are proud to announce significant strides in our commitment to sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint, in alignment with MTN Group’s Environmental Strategy. In 2023, in partnership with I-Engineering, we launched the groundbreaking Energy Service Company (ESCO) project as PaaS, an initiative aimed at revolutionising our energy consumption patterns. This project will deliver 305 solar BTS sites across the region over the term of the agreement. MTN South Sudan has already achieved a remarkable 30% reduction in fuel costs, reflecting our dedication to environmental stewardship and operational efficiency. This initiative not only supports our green energy goals but also enhances the reliability and expansion of our network, particularly in and around the capital city, Juba.

Furthering our efforts, we successfully integrated two major data centres and other facilities into the National GRID. This transition is set to significantly decrease carbon emissions and contribute to our ongoing operational expenditure reduction drive. In addition to these achievements, we have also reinforced our network’s reliability in high revenue areas by procuring 11-20KVA diesel generators, ensuring stability and redundancy to GRID power. These initiatives underscore our commitment to a sustainable future at MTN South Sudan. They enhance community connections while fostering environmental responsibility. We are excited to continue this journey and lead the way in sustainable telecommunications in South Sudan.

In recent years, loadshedding/power outages have posed significant challenges to South Africa’s infrastructure, impacting various sectors including telecommunications. In 2023, the frequency of loadshedding surged dramatically, to a 1 000% increase compared to 2021. Amid this energy crisis, MTN South Africa found itself navigating through operational hurdles, particularly in sustaining network reliability amid power outages. To ensure continuity, MTN South Africa resorted to extensive utilisation of diesel generators, incurring substantial costs to maintain operations at an optimal level. However, this reliance on diesel came at a cost beyond monetary implications. The heightened diesel consumption not only strained operational budgets but also posed a significant setback to the company’s sustainability goals, contributing to increased carbon emissions. Recognising the urgent need to mitigate both financial and environmental impacts, MTN South Africa embarked on a proactive initiative – the inception of the MTN South Africa Solar Park. This visionary project aims to harness renewable energy sources to power the company’s infrastructure, thereby reducing reliance on conventional fossil fuels and minimising carbon footprint.

The design and development of the MTN South Africa Solar Park represent a pivotal step towards achieving energy independence and sustainability. The Solar Park boasts a 5MW Solar PV installation complemented by a robust 2MW Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) with a capacity of 6MWh (megawatt-hours). The MTN Solar Park’s Solar PV array harnesses the abundant solar energy resources, leveraging state-of-the-art photovoltaic technology to generate clean and renewable electricity. With a capacity of 5MW, this solar installation stands as a beacon of sustainability, capable of powering MTN South Africa’s campus operations with clean energy during daylight hours. For the BESS, the advanced solution empowers MTN South Africa to optimise energy utilisation by storing surplus solar energy generated during the day for deployment during periods of high demand or during nighttime hours.

The integration of the Solar PV, BESS and gas generators enables the campus to achieve energy autonomy, significantly reducing reliance on the municipal grid and diesel generators. By leveraging stored solar energy, MTN South Africa can seamlessly power its campus operations, ensuring uninterrupted service delivery while mitigating environmental impact and reducing operational costs. The campus is expected to significantly reduce its dependence on the municipal grid and diesel generators, achieving a remarkable 40% reduction in reliance on conventional energy sources.

The initiative encountered multifaceted challenges necessitating meticulous planning and execution. Beyond the monumental civil and structural groundwork, the implementation of the solar PV and battery components proved to be highly intricate, particularly within a campus already managing three distinct energy sources – diesel, gas and the grid. Navigating the complexities of integrating multiple energy generation sources posed significant hurdles in terms of control and distribution of power. Managing the seamless co‑ordination of these diverse energy inputs demanded sophisticated systems and precise oversight to ensure optimal performance and reliability. Furthermore, the task of monitoring all five energy sources – including the newly introduced solar PV and battery systems – presented an additional layer of complexity. With a vast array of components comprising 9 159 panels, 14 inverters, two transformers, and two battery containers, the monitoring process required meticulous attention to detail and advanced technological solutions. We are committed to overcoming challenges and are progressing, with dedicated efforts focused on streamlining operations, enhancing monitoring capabilities, and ensuring seamless integration of the solar PV and battery components into the existing energy infrastructure.

MTN breaks new ground in our renewable energy integration. Drawing from the invaluable insights and lessons gleaned from this landmark project, we are poised to replicate the learnings at our data centres and switching centres. This strategic expansion reaffirms reduction to our overall energy expenditure and reinforces our commitment to sustainability. We continue our exploration of emerging technologies, particularly those aligned with our zero-carbon aspirations. Looking forward, one such innovation on our radar is virtual wheeling, a technology with the potential to revolutionise energy management and further
diminish our environmental impact. Upon its launch, we intend to leverage virtual wheeling to optimise energy utilisation, ensuring even greater efficiency and sustainability across our operations.

MTN Rwanda recognizes the critical role of sustainability initiatives in mitigating climate change and ensuring a cleaner future. To reduce its carbon footprint, the company is actively implementing clean energy solutions across its operations.

One element of this approach is the greening of the MTN Rwanda network. This initiative not only reduces reliance on traditional energy sources but also leads to significant cost savings. As part of this commitment, MTN Rwanda aims to complete two additional solar projects at its data centers in 2024, a move that will further strengthen its environmental responsibility.

MTN Rwanda’s dedication to sustainability extends beyond solar power adoption. The company is also exploring innovative energy storage solutions. These solutions hold the potential to optimize energy efficiency throughout the network, ensuring reliable connectivity while minimizing environmental impact.

This unwavering commitment to sustainable practices positions MTN Rwanda as a leader in responsible business operations within the telecommunications industry. By prioritizing clean energy, MTN Rwanda demonstrates that it is possible to align business growth with environmental stewardship, ultimately benefiting both the planet and future generations.

We are improving how we expand our reach. Our BTS sites operated diesel generators continuously (24/7) to maintain functionality in areas currently outside the reach of the national grid. The Cote d’Ivoire grid has significant hydroelectricity generation. We committed to delivering on our Project Zero commitments. Our ongoing energy efficiency project has been instrumental in reducing the reliance on diesel generators by a third. This achievement was accomplished through the implementation of a hybrid solution, strategically combining different energy sources. The positive impact of the energy efficiency project includes reducing diesel generator usage by 33%, resulting in a significant reduction of fuel consumption, which consequentially corresponds to a decrease in associated emissions. Looking forward, we intend to progressively connect more BTS sites using diesel generators to the grid and adopt solar solutions in the absence of grid coverage.

The current fragile macroeconomic situation has further heightened the ever-present practice within MTN to drive efficiency, bolster cost containment initiatives and improve working capital management while utilising ESG as an enabler. MTN Guinea-Republic has successfully demonstrated this in practice by reusing refurbished network infrastructure equipment that would have previously been idle, obsolete or disposed in another MTN market, thereby supporting sustainableresource management. This enabled us to execute our strategic projects at a fraction of the cost of new equipment and, more importantly, to maximise the resources available while fulfilling MTN’s commitment to protecting the planet. By reusing equipment, we avoid emissions that would have been emitted during the mining of the resources, manufacturing and distribution needed for new equipment.

This would not have been possible without our Circular Economy programme, Project Infinity, that enables buying refurbished equipment with the same assurances as new. The programme utilises digital solutions, which includes an online marketplace platform for visibility in matching the supply to the demand, a framework to ensure quality, tax and trade compliance, the provision of process support, technical and logistic capabilities, and a reporting structure.

The MTN Guinea-Republic technology team uses the Marketplace platform to check whether the required equipment is available elsewhere in our markets for reuse before placing an order for new. Through the online platform, the team can place their order, track it all the way to delivery to check how much emissions they avoided though reuse.

MTN Guinea-Republic have adopted the programme into the sourcing strategy to maximise the supply chain opportunities offered and are regular return customers to the Marketplace. By embedding sustainable practices into our operations through a programmatic approach, MTN Guinea-Republic has reused 237 pieces of network equipment so far, which in turn accounted for 155.6tCO2e emissions avoided.