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As part of our commitment to protect the health and safety of our people and workplaces, as well as contribute towards the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations across our markets, MTN Group will be implementing a mandatory vaccination policy for staff from January 2022.
“The science is clear. Vaccination against COVID-19 reduces rates of serious infections, hospitalisation, and death. As an employer, we have a responsibility to ensure that our workplaces are guided by the highest standards of health and safety, and that has informed our decision to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for our staff,” said MTN Group President and Chief Executive Officer Ralph Mupita.
“Our new COVID-19 policy recognises that some of our markets don’t have adequate access to vaccines. It also recognises some low-risk roles that will be accommodated with full-time work-from-home or alternate arrangements, but this will be a small population within our workforce,” he added.
Both the World Health Organization and the Africa Centres for Disease Control advocate for vaccines – saying that they are an important measure to protect people. The global rollout of vaccinations since 2020 has clearly contributed to the containment and management of the virus in many countries.
“Vaccine equity continues to be a major issue for African countries. As MTN, we add our voice to the calls for more vaccines to be made available to African countries, as herd immunity will only happen when the whole globe has reached a sufficient level of COVID-19 vaccination,” said Mupita.
“The latest travel bans on African countries by developed nations are not based on science, are unjust and add to the lack of support for Africa that is much needed for an effective global response to the pandemic. African countries are being punished for the very transparency that’s actually needed to successfully combat the impact on lives and livelihoods of the COVID-19 virus,” he added.
The latest data shows that across the continent, only 7% of Africans have been fully vaccinated. This compares with a global population vaccination rate of 55%. “The fight against COVID-19 needs a global, comprehensive and equitable allocation of vaccines,” he added.
MTN Group’s new vaccine policy is a measure to meet MTN’s legal obligations in regard to providing a safe workplace and shall be subject to risk assessment and local laws that apply to the MTN Group and our operating companies and subsidiaries.
It also recognises the right of employees to apply to be exempted from the policy and/or refuse vaccination on certain clearly defined grounds. For those staff who are not exempt from vaccinations either through risk assessment or agreed exclusions but still refuse vaccination, MTN will not be obliged to continue the employment contract.
The new mandatory vaccination policy follows the Group’s US$25 million donation to the African Union’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.
MTN Group has received recognition on the 2021 Fortune Change the World list. The Change the World List is a global ranking of the top 53 companies that make a measurable progress addressing pressing social problems as part of their business strategy.
“MTN is humbled to be recognised on the Fortune Change the World list. We are committed to changing the world through meaningful contributions to the societies across the markets in which we operate,” says MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita. “Our networks, products, and services are supplied with the intention of closing the digital divide by facilitating digital communications and financial inclusion.”
The publishers of the Change the World list have noted that many of this year’s honourees are battling to reverse the neglect of some societal needs, as magnified by the pandemic. These companies are investing in the long-term health of their businesses by supporting those on the lower stages of the global economic ladder, including distributing COVID-19 vaccines in low- and middle-income nations.
Since the start of the spread of COVID-19, MTN has remained committed to playing a part in the ongoing fight against the pandemic through our global mask wearing awareness campaign #wearitforme and #onemorepushafrica. Heeding the call for vaccinations across the African continent, MTN donated US$25 million to support the African Union’s COVID-19 vaccination programme. The donation to Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) will help secure up to seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for health workers on the continent.
Also noted during the pandemic, the urgent need to stay connected, saw data traffic soaring by 110% in 2020. MTN was able to address gaps in connectivity by improving the affordability of its services, whilst providing digital and financial solutions to consumers and businesses, and helping to drive digital inclusion to the most vulnerable and marginalised communities on the African continent.
For MTN, better connectivity doesn’t mean less eco-responsibility. MTN works with its partners to make sure we limit our environmental impact and safeguards biodiversity around every cell tower we build. MTN has also set science-based targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 47% by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2040.
For us, this is about being part of the long-term solution, harnessing the power of partnerships to act swiftly to address the challenges brought on by the pandemic, whilst prioritising our people, customers, and communities, as well as looking after our businesses and the environment. It is for this reason, we continue to believe in the power of collective action to make a meaningful difference, focusing our efforts where needs are greatest.
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MTN Group today reported a strong performance for the first half of 2021: exceeding most medium-term targets; reducing debt; advancing digital and financial inclusion; and cutting the cost to communicate across Africa. The Group also called for vaccine equity amid a deepening divide between countries that have access to vaccines for their people and those that do not.
“Notwithstanding the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, MTN delivered a solid H1, exceeding most of the Group’s medium-term targets through sustained commercial momentum as we executed on our Ambition 2025 strategy,” said MTN Group President and Chief Executive Officer Ralph Mupita.
We continued to prioritise the health of our people, as well as sustain initiatives to support Africa’s recovery from the pandemic’s devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods. By 12 July 2021, we had 2 452 COVID-19 infections across our operations and mourned the loss of 18 MTN employees. By that date, just over 8% of our staff had been vaccinated with at least one dose.
“We add our voice to the calls by the World Health Organisation and the Africa CDC for COVID-19 vaccine equity for developing markets. The push for herd immunity across the world and a return to broad-based socio-economic global growth will not be possible while developing markets battle to access vaccines,” said Mupita. “Public private partnerships focused on a sustainable future for our planet will be critical to successfully navigate this pandemic.”
With the launch of the #OneMorePush campaign in July, MTN Group extended our partnership with the Africa CDC. This campaign encourages people to not give up in the fight against COVID-19 and to continue to wear their masks, wash their hands and practise social distancing, at a time when vaccination levels in our markets still lag those in developed countries.
At the end of June 2021, across our 21 markets MTN Group had more than 277 million voice subscribers; 117 million active data customers; almost 49 million active Mobile Money users; and eight million users of our instant messaging platform ayoba.
In constant currency terms, service revenue increased by 20% in H1 to almost R82 billion and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) before once-off items increased by 24% to nearly R39 billion. The Group’s EBITDA margin expanded by 1.6 percentage points to 44.9%.
Reported headline earnings per share (HEPS) declined by 10%, impacted by non-operational and once-off items, which included accounting adjustments related to our Middle East portfolio as well as material COVID-19 donations. Excluding these, adjusted HEPS increased by 31.5%. This supported the further expansion of adjusted return on equity, which was up by more than four percentage points to 18.3%. In line with previous guidance, no interim dividend was declared.
We made good progress in reducing our holding company debt, which declined to R36.7 billion from R43.3 billion, and the holdco leverage reduced to 1.4x in the half. This was boosted by cash inflows received from our operating companies of R9.3 billion, which included R4.0 billion from Nigeria, as well as R1.8 billion in proceeds from the sale of our stake in Belgacom International Carrier Services.
We advanced our work to create shared value, driven by our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. We added approximately R50 billion of economic value to sustain societies in our markets; increased the number of people covered by broadband by more than 25 million; and reduced the average effective data rate per megabyte across our markets by more than 17%. We also paid cash taxes of R7.2 billion in support of the nation states in which we operate, up 47% year-on-year.
We made progress in efforts to reach net zero emissions by 2040, including working closely with our suppliers to reduce our scope 3 emissions. To accelerate diversity and inclusion, we set a target of 50% women representation of executives and boards across our operating companies.
Our April 2021 bid for a new telecom licence in Ethiopia was unsuccessful. Our bid took into account the licence conditions as well as related uncertainties. We had also adopted a partnership approach to ensure that funding and risk was diversified. While disappointing, we are comfortable that our approach was guided by disciplined strategic and capital allocation frameworks. The Group has decided not to participate in the new liberalisation processes underway in Ethiopia, and we thank the Ethiopian government for the opportunity to have been part of the previous process. We also thank the partners we had in our unsuccessful licence bid.
We announced our decision to abandon the MTN operation in Syria given regulatory actions and demands that make operating in that country untenable. We reserve our rights to seek redress through international legal processes given the actions of the Syrian authorities that have left us with no other choice than to exit. MTN Syria represented less than 1% of MTN Group EBITDA at the end of 2020. In line with our focus on Africa, we continue to explore options to exit Yemen and Afghanistan in an orderly manner.
In a unique public/private partnership, MTN, Africa’s leading mobile network, has announced a donation of US$25 million to support the African Union’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The donation will help secure up to seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for health workers across the continent, which will contribute to the vaccination initiative of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
“The devastating impact of COVID-19has been unprecedented and profound. Public and private partnerships are needed if we are to succeed in the fight against the pandemic and restore social and economic norms for our continent and our communities,” says Ralph Mupita, President and Chief Executive Officer of MTN Group.
On 14 January 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the African Union, announced that the African Union had secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses on behalf of its Member States, through advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers by the African Export-Import Bank.
This was an important milestone in efforts to ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine for Africa’s people. However, with a population of about 1.3 billion, Africa requires many more doses to achieve at least 60 percent herd immunity. Contributions by private organisations, like MTN, are therefore essential to help the continent reach its target.
“Our goal is to ensure that all those who need the COVID-19 vaccine have access to it very quickly, but the biggest hurdle in Africa has been financing of the vaccines, and the logistics of vaccinating at scale. We therefore welcome the right partnerships, like the one with MTN, to achieve our minimum 60 percent vaccination target,” says Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, MTN has made significant contributions to help limit the spread of the disease and save lives and livelihoods within its African market.
This donation is another example of MTN’s efforts to help find lasting solutions to solve the challenges facing the continent and to guarantee a healthy Africa, for all Africans.
“We believe ongoing collaborations with key stakeholders across sectors are essential as vaccines are deployed in all our markets, with communication tools, technology and digital services being vital support infrastructure for a successful mass vaccination programme,” concludes Mupita. “In the coming months, MTN Group will look at similar support commitments for the markets in which we operate in the Middle East.”
Since COVID-19 started to spread throughout the world in early 2020, social media has been abuzz with speculation linking 5G technology to the pandemic. However, scientists and health experts across the globe have discredited this as misinformation spread by people seeking to make sense of a virus over which they feel they have little control.
MTN continues to work to raise awareness of the fact that there is no reliable scientific evidence of any link between 5G and COVID-19 and we remain focused on our efforts to combat the pandemic and support customers and society in these uncertain times.
We continue to prioritise the resilience and capacity of our networks, which provide the telecoms services that are vital in the fight against the novel coronavirus as well as the connectivity that customers need to remain economically active despite renewed lockdown restrictions in many markets.
In recent years, 5G mobile technology has undergone extensive research, with numerous studies finding that it has no negative impact on the environment nor people. This fact has been confirmed by leading global experts, independent professional groups and public health agencies, including the World Health Organization.
The United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says there is no scientific basis for the statements that link 5G to COVID-19. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) says that claims that exposure to the electromagnetic fields generated by 5G devices can cause COVID-19 are “not supported by any evidence”.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says that there is no correlation between 5G and COVID-19, adding: “5G is an advancement on today’s 4G technology, designed to transform the world positively”. MTN Nigeria Chairman Ernest Ndukwe has also added his voice to efforts to debunk the misinformation (Read more).
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has condemned theories linking 5G to COVID-19, saying: “The Authority would like to urge all South Africans not to be swayed by these conspiracy theories that are hell-bent on bringing instability and fear”.
University of Johannesburg Vice Chancellor Professor Tshilidzi Marwala has also added his voice, saying: “There is no causal connection between 5G technology and any biological virus, including COVID-19” and that 5G will positively and fundamentally transform communication (Read more).
The GMSA mobile industry organisation has condemned acts of arson against mobile phone masts, calling on internet giants, content providers and social media platforms to accelerate their efforts to “remove fake news linking 5G to the spread of COVID-19”.
MTN continues to act to address the challenges brought on by the disruption to economic activity and the restrictions on people’s movements that have accompanied the spread of COVID-19. We continue to prioritise people, customers and communities, as well as looking after our network and our business.
We remain driven to deliver on our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. The rollout of 5G into the future is key to our work to bring more people into the digital world and allow Africa to reap the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as the technology offers extensive network capacity; ultra-high-speed mobile connectivity; ultra-low latency as well as massive Internet-of-Things capabilities.
Hip-hop star and Grammy Award-winning producer Khaled Mohamed Khaled, aka DJ Khaled, on Wednesday added his voice to MTN Group’s efforts to raise awareness about the importance of wearing masks to fight the spread of COVID-19.
“DJ Khaled and MTN want you to know that we want you to wear your mask out there; it is so important,” the rapper and social media celebrity said in a video clip posted to his 21,5 million Instagram followers. In a message he felt was vital for Africa as well as for the rest of the world, he said: “If you love yourself, you love your family…if you love the WORLD, you will wear a mask.”
Wearing face coverings remains one of the most effective measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, many people refuse to wear them, wear them incorrectly or still underestimate their importance.
DJ Khaled, whose participation was enabled by his management company Roc Nation, urged everyone to get involved: “Tag somebody that you love so that they can wear their mask…I’m gonna wear mine; you gonna wear yours and we will make this world better, safer…and we are gonna come out this stronger, wiser and more powerful! MTN, DJ Khaled. One love.”
Earlier this month, MTN Group launched its #WearItForMe campaign, encouraging customers and the public at large not to be complacent, to wear their masks to protect themselves, and to protect and respect others.
#WearItForMe runs throughout September. Spread the message, not the virus. Visit www.wearitfor.me to send a message to someone to encourage them to do the right thing.
MTN is adding its voice to global efforts to raise awareness about the importance of wearing masks to fight the spread of COVID-19 with today’s launch of the #WearItForMe campaign across its markets.
As society navigates the “new normal” brought about by the pandemic, wearing face coverings remains one of the most effective measures to slow its spread. However, many people refuse to wear them, wear them incorrectly, or still underestimate their importance.
“COVID-19 has had profound health and socioeconomic impacts across the world. We empathise and mourn the lives lost to the pandemic. And even though the outbreak appears to be slowing in Africa, now is not the time to be complacent,” says MTN’s incoming group president and CEO Ralph Mupita.
“With increasing evidence that masks can limit the spread of COVID-19, and eventually eliminate the disease if worn by 80-90% of the population, we need to do what we can to make a meaningful difference. Wearing a mask is not only about protecting oneself, but about respecting and protecting others,” says Mupita.
To help drive this behaviour, MTN is committing its September 2020 marketing resources to encourage everyone to do more to save lives. #WearItForMe is the second phase of MTN’s Y’ello Hope COVID-19 response initiative. It is a powerful call-to-action using the voices of some of the most influential people in our communities: mothers and mother-figures. They will send heartfelt messages to all the children of Africa to wear a mask and “wear it for me’’.
The campaign will build on MTN’s work carried out under Y’ello Hope to brighten lives and limit the impact of the pandemic, including through providing free data lifelines, zero-rated access to educational sites and using technology for contact tracing and information dissemination through the Africa COVID Communications and Information Platform.
“Wearing a mask is, of course, not the only thing we all need to do to slow the spread of the virus: regular handwashing and strict social distancing are just as important,” concludes Mupita.
#WearItForMe will run throughout September. Visit www.wearitfor.me to send a message to someone to encourage them to do the right thing. #WearItForMe: Because when we all wear masks, we protect each other.
Together with host nations and strategic partners, MTN has supported in the establishment of the Africa COVID Communications and Information Platform (ACCIP) driven by the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Africa Center for Disease Control (CDC) to assist countries on the continent respond to the impact of COVID-19.
The Platform launched today, aims to support each country’s national COVID-19 taskforce to enhance its ability to analyse the situation and implement the necessary responses, as well as direct resources to mitigate the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
Together with the other partners, MTN has played a key role in the development of the platform as well as the creation and operationalisation of the mobile platform templates and operating protocols.
“As a pan-African company, we are vested in the continent’s development and its ability to rise out of the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than before. Driven to enable digital and financial inclusion, we felt it important to use our technology, expertise and network for the good of Africa and its people,” said MTN Group president and CEO Rob Shuter.
“As we worked with the various partners to develop the platform, we were mindful of the realities faced in African markets where smartphone penetration and internet penetration are low. This platform offers free-to-use services using a combination of text and voice interactions,” he added.
Set to reach more than 600 million users across the continent, the ACCIP represents an impressive mix of high and low tech to take practical advantage of the richness of data generated by users of even simple 2G phones.
Anonymous user-generated survey data will be transmitted to an artificial intelligence-driven system which will then combine it with public information from social and other digital channels for targeted analysis.
The ACCIP platform will allow policymakers to share insights and harness data to inform decision making at a regional and national level for the benefit of local populations. National authorities will ultimately also be able to conduct community-level messaging for social welfare, facilitating cash distribution (including e-payments) or targeted information on local food distribution or the provision of clean water. When data shows emerging virus hotspots, authorities will be able to direct medical resources to those areas, as well as alert residents of their availability.
The spread of COVID-19 has touched every part of Africa. Governments’ lockdown restrictions to limit the spread of the virus have meant many people have felt isolated from their friends, families and colleagues. But Africans are increasingly turning to mobile tech solutions, including Over-the-Top (OTT) applications, to keep in touch and to stay informed about the pandemic.
MTN in partnership with the Ayoba app allows MTN customers to connect with loved ones with no data costs. MTN has been offering zero-rated data for Ayoba in most of the 16 markets where it has been launched. This translated into 6 144 terabytes of free data and ca. $147,7m value provided via Ayoba during the COVID-19 period.
“MTN’s is working to provide access to affordable communications so people in our markets can reap the social, economic and developmental dividends of being online,” says David Gilarranz, MTN’s executive for group digital services. “Leveraging our established customer base, MTN has built a digital ecosystem spanning OTT services in messaging, media and advertising that aims to bring more people into the digital world.”
With lockdown measures still in place in many markets, the need for reliable information on COVID-19 has never been more critical. MTN customers are also benefiting from four dedicated Ayoba COVID-19 channels that provide vital information from relevant authorities at no data cost. In addition, MTN has added six channels for education, self-help, jobs and skills development information.
Since the beginning of April, Ayoba has reached over 2 million monthly active users. It offers users access to an ecosystem of digital and rich media services through channels, micro-apps and payment solutions, embedded within an African super-app.
At the same time, Ayoba is highly localised and tailored for African and Middle East consumer needs. The platform supports 20 languages spoken across our markets. Users can send and receive encrypted messages, share photos, videos, files and voice notes and can also subscribe to live channels. Localised content is available through curated channels aimed at entertaining, educating and empowering communities as well as a range of games.
Developed as an open digital platform that enables third-party innovation, Ayoba has the capacity to offer a rich and diversified experience. Businesses and content providers can engage with their customers using channels. Through this partnership with Ayoba, MTN delivers more value to the broader ecosystem of businesses, users and local developers and create experiences that are optimised for local communities.
Ayoba can be downloaded onto smartphones from the Google Play app store as well as the www.ayoba.me website.
This International Day of the African Child, MTN is pleased to be supporting the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to help mobilise funds for children and families across Sub-Saharan Africa affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
MTN is doing this by enabling SMS fundraising throughout a month-long campaign to raise funds for those most severely impacted by the virus on the continent. All proceeds raised through the campaign will be donated in full to UNICEF and WFP, who are supporting COVID-19 affected communities across Africa.
The pandemic’s closure of schools is putting at risk the futures of millions of Africa’s children, compromising their ability to learn and their access at school to healthcare and food. Because of COVID-19, some 253 million children across the continent are not going to school and 65 million are missing out on school meals.
“Healthy, well-nourished kids have a much better chance of fulfilling their potential,” said Nompilo Morafo, MTN Group Executive for Corporate Affairs. “Inclusion is at the heart of MTN and this is why we decided to support the campaign by UNICEF and WFP to raise funds for health supplies and food.”
“The COVID-19 epidemic is affecting children in many ways” said Dr Jama Gulaid, UNICEF Representative in South Africa. “UNICEF appreciates the assistance of MTN which is helping us and our partners reach children with vital services: health, protection and water sanitation and education,” Gulaid added.
The World Food Programme Regional Director for Southern Africa, Lola Castro said, “With so many people on the continent already acutely food insecure, we are extremely concerned about the prospect of COVID-19 causing a hunger catastrophe.”
In this unprecedented global crisis, the poorest and most vulnerable communities are the most at risk. Together we can give them a fighting chance with access to the basics: clean water, food, soap, gloves, and masks. The donations will help UNICEF and the World Food Programme deliver life-saving health supplies and nutritious food.
To donate: In SA, SMS “donate” to 42164 to donate to UNICEF and the WFP. SMS cost is R30. Network Fees Apply, closing date 30 June 2020. Rest of the world, https://help.unicef.org/africa.