27 September 2021

The GSMA, the association representing mobile operators worldwide, has singled out MTN Digital Smart for a case study on how digital literacy programmes can make a real impact in promoting mobile internet usage.

The report – published by the GSMA’s Connected Society programme which focuses on underserved population groups in developing markets – evaluates MTN’s pilot Data Smart campaign in Benin and Cameroon.

Analysis of MTN transactional data showed a significant increase in data usage among customers who received the digital skills training…Customers started to apply the knowledge and skills they learned to use mobile internet,” it says, noting that in both countries, Digital Smart resulted in trainees’ average revenue per user (ARPU) more than doubling for all user categories. Among smartphone users trained, ARPU and mobile data usage more than tripled.

Describing how MTN has “made digital inclusion a core part of their growth strategy and embedded this commitment in their CHASE framework”, the GSMA reports that Digital Smart drew on materials from the Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit, an easy-to-use toolkit developed by the GSMA for first-time mobile users.

Launched in 2018, MTN’s CHASE framework guides us in our work to extend digital inclusion by overcoming the five key barriers to mobile internet adoption: coverage, handsets, affordability, service bundling and education and ease of access.

“An important part of the campaign is meaningful use of cases based on customers’ needs and interests, that make mobile internet relevant and applicable to their lives,” the case study says. “For example, in an area where a cinema recently opened, agents showed customers how to watch trailers for the films on their phones.”

In 2019, an MTN Digital Smart pilot reached some three million people and the many lessons learnt were used the following year to bring digital literacy to 18 million individuals in eight countries: Benin, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Conakry, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda.

According to the case study, “Running the Data Smart campaign required considerable resources at both the group and operating-company level. MTN’s hybrid approach, which included remote delivery methods alongside traditional face-to-face training, ensured the campaign continued to reach scale even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The case study features photographs of MTN brand ambassadors reaching out to the public in crowded markets, in rural areas, restaurants and offices. There is even an image of a brand ambassador climbing a ladder to access a customer’s hard-to-reach home.

The case study concludes with the key takeaways which others who are serious about digital inclusion can use. These recommendations include the importance of localising content, making it easier for individuals to remember and share what they’ve learnt, and using all available channels and media.

“The partnership between the GSMA and MTN on the Data Smart campaign has had a substantial social and commercial impact,” the report comments.

MTN Group General Manager Customer Experience and Digital Irshaad Gouse concurs: “The education element is absolutely critical to our Dual Data strategy and overall commitment to creating shared value as part of MTN’s Ambition 2025 corporate strategy.”

“Enabling people to understand the relevant opportunities that being connected brings them and how it can not just support, but fundamentally change their lives for the better, is key,” he adds.

Our Dual Data approach aims to provide access to customers across different segments within our markets, addressing the urban-rural divide as lower income and/or rural customers make up around 70% of market.

In 2021 Digital Smart is continuing to reach out to millions across Africa, to fundamentally change their lives through the power of mobile.