Tag: Sustainability

MTN marks three decades of operations, celebrating a legacy of connecting people, changing lives, and driving economic growth across South Africa and the African continent.

“As we reflect on this significant milestone, we express our sincere gratitude to all our stakeholders, past and present, across multiple jurisdictions, for their support,” said MTN Group President and Chief Executive Officer Ralph Mupita. “We couldn’t have achieved this remarkable success without you.”

Since its inception in 1994, MTN has evolved from a small South African start-up with 20 employees into a global telecommunications leader, employing over 17,500 individuals representing more than 70 nationalities across 18 diverse markets.

In South Africa, MTN’s impact has been profound. The company’s network now reaches 97% of the population, providing a foundation for digital inclusion and economic empowerment. By investing in cutting-edge technologies like 4G and 5G, MTN has ensured that South Africa remains at the forefront of technological advancement. A recent study by KPMG showed that MTN South Africa’s contribution to the country’s GDP is substantial, making it a key player in the national economy.

The evolution of handsets and the proliferation of apps have democratised access to information and essential services, from financial solutions to healthcare, education, and entertainment. This has been a game-changer for individuals and businesses alike.

MTN’s influence extends far beyond South Africa. In 2023, the MTN Group recorded over R220 billion (more than US$11 billion) in revenue, a testament to its market leadership and the growing demand for digital services across Africa. This success has driven the company’s market capitalisation to over R150 billion, solidifying its position as one of the continent’s most valuable companies.

Across Africa, MTN connects millions, empowering them with essential communication tools and access to vital services. More than 149 million people rely on MTN’s network for data access, fuelling a digital transformation that is reshaping industries and societies. Additionally, MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) provides over 65 million individuals with access to financial services, driving financial inclusion and economic empowerment in underserved communities.

MTN’s commitment to socio-economic development is evident everywhere. In 2023, the Group’s total tax contribution to governments across markets was nearly R62 billion (over US$3.3 billion), supporting vital public services and infrastructure development. MTN’s operations also generated some R159 billion in economic value, creating jobs, stimulating economic activity, and fostering digital innovation.

From the outset, the Group has been driven to make a social impact. Launched in 2001, the first MTN Foundation had an annual budget of R22 million. In 2023, MTN spent ten times that – R220 million – in corporate social responsibility across markets, with a special focus on developing digital skills to enable the digital economy.

Furthermore, both MTN Group and MTN South Africa have achieved Level 1 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment status, underscoring their commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social transformation.

MTN’s dedication to giving back is embodied in the annual “21 Days of Y’ello Care” initiative, which has been extended to 30 days this year to commemorate the 30th anniversary. Kicking off on 01 June 2024 under the theme “Learn Today, Lead Tomorrow: Education for Rural and Remote Communities,” this initiative mobilises MTN employees across the continent to dedicate their time and resources to enhance educational opportunities. This year, the focus is on bridging the educational divide in rural and remote areas, providing digital learning tools, and supporting educational infrastructure to empower the next generation of leaders within these communities.

MTN’s 30-year journey is a testament to the transformative power of technology and the unwavering spirit of innovation. Looking to the future, MTN remains dedicated to bridging the digital divide, empowering individuals and communities, and driving Africa’s sustainable and inclusive progress through cutting-edge digital solutions.

MTN Group reported a resilient underlying operating performance for 2023 in the face of tough macro headwinds, declaring a total dividend of 330 cents per share. Inflation remained elevated in several key markets and the sharp devaluation of the Nigerian naira impacted reported results for both MTN Nigeria and MTN Group.

Amid sustained high demand for data and fintech services, MTN Group increased the number of active data subscribers by more than 9% to 150 million – half the total subscriber base – and active Mobile Money (MoMo) users by 5% to 72.5 million. Total subscribers increased to 295 million across the Group’s markets.

In the year to end-December 2023, data traffic on MTN’s networks (excluding joint ventures) grew by more than a third, with usage up to an average of more than 6GB per user per month. To sustain this growth, as well as network coverage and quality, MTN deployed capital expenditure (excluding leases) of R41 billion in the year.

The volume of fintech transactions also increased by around a third to 17.6 billion, with the value of transactions across the fintech platform up at US$272 billion, driven by growth of advanced services in payments, banktech and remittance solutions.

In South Africa, where the business faced loadshedding challenges, subsidiary MTN South Africa deployed R10 billion of capex to drive network capacity expansion and power resilience. More than R2.6 billion of this was investment in power and security resilience. By the end of the year, network availability across the entire network reached around 95%. For the sites where we had completed our resilience investment, we recorded network availability of more than 98%.

MTN South Africa reported solid growth in the consumer postpaid, enterprise and wholesale businesses. In the second half of the year there were also sequential improvements in the consumer prepaid business.

Strategic delivery
In the year, MTN Group made good strategic progress in the development of our fintech and fibre businesses. A key highlight was concluding an agreement for payment network processor Mastercard to invest up to US$200 million for a minority stake in MTN Group Fintech at a valuation of US$5.2 billion.

We are excited about this partnership, particularly the commercial agreements, which we expect to support the accelerated growth of our fintech business,” said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita. “In 2023, we also advanced our work to structurally separate the fibre business, Bayobab, with engagements to secure regulatory clearances in key markets being the main priority.”

In the year, Bayobab and Africa50 partnered to develop Project East2West, a terrestrial fibre optic cable network to help bridge Africa’s connectivity gap by improving broadband access for the continent’s landlocked countries in particular.

Among the Group’s other strategic progress highlights were the 13.1% absolute reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions. This is part of our environmental commitment to reach Net Zero emissions by 2040. We also finalised the sale of MTN Afghanistan, which completed the Group’s exit of our consolidated subsidiaries in the Middle East.

Resilient results
In the year, MTN Group’s finances withstood a challenging external environment, marked by elevated inflation (averaging a blended 16.7%), forex volatility and paucity, and ongoing political tensions in some markets, most notably in Sudan.

In constant currency terms, MTN Group service revenue grew 13.5% to R210 billion, with data revenue making up R84 billion and voice revenue contributing R83 billion. Fintech revenue totalled R21 billion.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation grew by almost 10% in constant currency terms to R90 billion. The Group delivered expense efficiencies of R2.6 billion and kept key debt ratios within covenant levels.

Outlook and priorities
Looking ahead, Mupita said MTN remained focused on executing on Ambition 2025: sustaining operational momentum, accelerating the platforms strategy, driving expense and capital efficiencies, and continuing to strengthen the balance sheet.

We are anticipating that the macro conditions in our trading environment will persist in 2024, with naira volatility and elevated inflation the key challenges we will need to navigate. MTN plans to invest R35-39 billion in 2024 to position the company to capture the structural demand for data and fintech services across Africa,” he said.

We maintain our overall medium-term guidance framework, however simplifying our objective for fintech,” Mupita said, adding that MTN was encouraged by the outlook for the fintech business, given the solid growth in advanced services. “The partnership with Mastercard positions the business well to scale faster and we are excited about the commercial launches of card issuance, acceptance and remittances across the footprint.

MTN Group has announced the winners of the 2023 Y’ello Care Awards, recognising the work done by more than 5 000 MTN volunteers across our operations to nurture grassroot entrepreneurs during the annual ‘21 Days of Y’ello Care’ campaign.

Y’ello Care is an opportunity for MTN employees to volunteer their time and resources to support their communities. The Y’ello Care Awards showcase the power of collective effort and affirm MTN’s role as a catalyst for positive change and inclusive growth in Africa.

MTN Uganda was named the overall winner of the 2023 campaign, themed “Empowering entrepreneurs to unlock growth and job creation for communities”. This theme was chosen because of the role that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play in driving economic development, particularly in Africa, where they contribute up to 45% of employment and 33% of GDP[1].

At MTN, we know that real progress is made through collaboration, innovation and a shared commitment to empowering others,” MTN Group Chief Sustainability & Corporate Affairs Officer Nompilo Morafo said.“The Y’ello Care Awards are a celebration of this and a tribute to the dedication of our employees who volunteer their time and expertise to make a positive difference.”

In line with MTN’s strategic intent of ‘leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress’, MTN Uganda provided tech infrastructure, connectivity, and training to SMEs to enhance digital and financial literacy and equip entrepreneurs with the skills they need to navigate the digital marketplace.

MTN Cameroon won the West and Central Africa (WECA) region award for its work to empower female entrepreneurs and people with disabilities. Key initiatives included workshops, the provision of adapted co-working spaces, and assistive technologies. These efforts were aimed at creating an inclusive environment conducive to business growth.

MTN Eswatini received the Southern and East Africa (SEA) region award for a five-project campaign, including the ‘Trash to Treasure’ initiative focusing on waste management and entrepreneurship training for disadvantaged youth, and a greenhouse project supporting women farmers.

MTN Sudan scooped the special recognition award for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, acknowledging the operation’s commitment to maintaining connectivity for communities even under challenging circumstances. Sudan remains home to the largest child displacement crisis in the world, with over three million children fleeing the war. MTN Sudan’s connectivity centres are playing an instrumental role in supporting child-friendly safe learning spaces.

MTN’s commitment to supporting SMEs extends beyond our dedicated 21 days of Y’ello Care initiative to a broader strategy to empower businesses through technology and connectivity solutions. Recognising the critical role we play in an increasingly hyper-connected world, MTN leverages our Enterprise Business to cater to the evolving communication and ICT needs of SMEs.

Whether its equipping entrepreneurs with the latest technologies, supporting women-led businesses, or fostering sustainable agriculture practices, MTN’s support goes beyond connectivity. It’s about building relationships, understanding needs and offering tailored solutions that empower businesses to chart their own course.

Looking ahead, we remain steadfast in our commitment to social responsibility, hand-in-hand with communities, as we build a more prosperous and equitable future for Africa.

[1] World Bank, 2020

MTN has reiterated its commitment to Africa’s progress at the Africa Prosperity Dialogues, recently held at Peduase, in Accra, Ghana. The program, organised by the Africa Prosperity Network, was designed to drive Africa’s growth through high-level dialogues between government and business leaders from Africa and beyond to deliberate and exchange ideas on key issues and solutions for building and harnessing Africa’s growth.

Ebenezer Asante, MTN Group Senior Vice President, Markets, encouraged industry players as well as government officials from across Africa to support cross-border trade by putting an end to what he called the “tyranny of sovereignty”. He applauded the government of Ghana’s decision to facilitate visa-free travel for Africans and bemoaned the challenges Africans face in making cross-border payments and transactions.

He said, “The tyranny of sovereignty must end to allow proper trade and ease of doing business across West Africa. Technology continues to transform the way we trade, and we must leverage the immense opportunities it presents to trade within our borders. The tyranny of sovereignty is an impediment to progress because with our borders closed to each other, we cannot foster seamless trade. African countries must open their borders to each other to allow intercontinental trade.”

Nompilo Morafo, MTN Group Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer and Selorm Adadevoh, CEO of MTN Ghana, contributed to the conversation on “Critical Enablers for Single Market Success – Leveraging Infrastructure, Innovation, and Technology”.

Morafo underscored the significance of corporate entities engaging in discussions that propel Africa’s development. She expressed MTN’s enthusiasm for participating in initiatives like the Africa Prosperity Dialogues, which are vital for promoting digital and financial inclusion. Morafo added, “What we hope for is that at the end of these dialogues, we will see policies and frameworks enacted to bring to life the wonderful ideas we discuss at these sessions towards the overall growth of the African continent”.

Adadevoh, echoed her sentiment highlighting the advantages of harnessing the power of the youth to push Africa to the forefront of technology. He said, “It is not enough to invest in the infrastructure without investing in the skills needed. Africa has the largest youth population in the world. We must harness the power of the youth by transforming our current educational system towards a more digital framework.”

Participating in a discussion on ‘Scaling Up Mobile Interoperability to Deepen Financial Inclusion and Intra-African Trade,’ Eli Hini, CEO of MoMo PSB Limited Nigeria, highlighted the importance of involving Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in achieving interoperability across African countries. He shared, ”Ease of participation is a crucial factor in the discussion of interoperability if we want to deepen financial inclusion and intra-Africa trade. If we are finally able to get the framework and structures that allow us to trade among ourselves, then we must take into consideration the ease of participation. SMEs, often grappling with challenges in cross-border trade, should be a focal point. It will be a waste of time to solve the issue of cross-border trade if SME’s cannot benefit from it. They must be well integrated into the system and given the access that they need to leverage the benefits of this agenda. We must be careful not to put up roadblocks that hinder their participation.”

MTN is inspired by Africa’s potential and remains committed to bridging the digital divide, furthering financial inclusion, and advancing the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through its core business activities and its support to governments, communities and customers.

Building on the success of an initiative in Zambia to encourage young people to come up with ideas to address unsustainable environmental practices, MTN Group and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) today announced the Africa PachiPanda Challenge. This extends the organisations’ joint initiative to four more countries on the continent.

On the sidelines of COP28, MTN Group Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer Nompilo Morafo met with the Zambia Minister of Green Economy and Environment Collins Nzovu who said the local initiative had been a great success and included some first-of-a-kind projects in Zambia: “The Challenge has been a significant milestone in driving tangible solutions to address sustainable and lasting climate solutions in Zambia. The type of initiatives – such as waste-to-electricity plants – which have emerged from the Challenge has been noteworthy. We now need to focus on scaling the programme and ensuring we support these businesses in a meaningful way.”

To attract new ideas to address challenges, increase conservation awareness and create a more sustainable Zambia, MTN Zambia and WWF Zambia launched the PachiPanda Challenge in 2022 and held it again this year. Attracting more than 1 500 applicants, the events invited young Zambians and SMEs to submit their solutions to a number of ‘challenge statements’. These included:

“We are proud to have birthed an innovative Initiative out of Zambia that evidently supports Youth-led small Businesses in the Climate Space that creates green jobs in a green economy.” MTN Zambia Foundation Chairperson, Rose Sibisi.

Through the Zambia PachiPanda Challenge, which is now transitioning into an African challenge, we believe that sustainable innovations key to addressing the pressing environmental issues facing our continent will be developed,” said Nachilala Nkombo, Country Director, WWF Zambia.

The Challenge will now expand to include four more countries – Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda – and will be open to applications from young people (aged 16-35) and youth-led SMEs with early-stage or idea-stage solutions to the environmental challenges presented.

“The Zambia PachiPanda Challenge, run by MTN Zambia Foundation and WWF Zambia, was an absolute success in the first two years, and we believe the initiative brought about meaningful and sustainable projects that have the potential to transform disadvantaged communities for the better,” said Evelyn Mwamubiru-Mwaura, Country Offices Project Quality Director, WWF Africa.

Morafo echoed these sentiments, saying: “MTN Group and WWF are committed to fostering innovation and sustainability in Africa and leveraging technology to achieve that. This challenge is an opportunity for African innovators to contribute to their communities and the wider continent, creating solutions that address environmental and social issues.”

The Africa PachiPanda Challenge, which is set to be launched in 2024, is more than a competition; it is a platform for change. It aims to inspire participants to think beyond conventional boundaries, develop solutions that address immediate challenges, and contribute to the long-term sustainability of their communities.

Leveraging innovative technology and strategic partnerships to combat gender-based violence (GBV), MTN Group today announces our participation in the global “UNiTE! Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls” campaign. Our involvement underscores our commitment to creating safer, more equitable environments for women and girls.

UNiTE! is a 16-day campaign of activism against the scourge of GBV which affects around 736 million women worldwide. The campaign focuses on breaking the barriers of silence and stigma that often surround GBV, empowering women to stand strong and speak out.

According to the World Health Organization, in sub-Saharan Africa a third of women have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. This surpasses the global average of 20%. Shockingly, one in five women (20%) in the region has experienced violence in the past year, compared to 13% globally.

The staggering number of women affected by gender-based violence globally requires more than just awareness – it demands action,” says MTN Group Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer Nompilo Morafo.

GBV is a crisis that transcends borders and cultures. As Africa’s leading communications company, we are uniquely positioned to use our resources and reach to make a tangible difference. Leveraging the power of technology as a social catalyst, we, together with all those involved in the UNiTE! campaign, contribute to making our communities safer.

MTN urges everyone to participate during the 16 Days of Activism against GBV campaign, amplifying the voices of survivors and activists, supporting women’s organisations, and strengthening feminist movements towards a common goal.

The collective call to action is to empower survivors, reduce and prevent violence against women and girls, and protect women’s rights, while simultaneously educating male allies and providing resources that can lead to further harm reduction. The time for silence is over; it is time to ACT, to EMPOWER, and be the CHANGE!

Every year the United Nations marks 16 Days of Activism against GBV. The campaign runs from 25 November to 10 December and acts to shed light on the urgent need for collective action to combat GBV globally.

MTN Group’s website provides a wealth of information on GBV, including tools and resources and emergency contacts across numerous markets.

For more information, please visit https://www.mtn.com/16-days-of-activism/.

MTN is honoured to have received The Africa-America Institute’s 2023 Corporate Responsibility Award, which recognises corporations that have made significant contributions to Africa’s progress and demonstrated a commitment to sustainable and inclusive growth, positively impacting communities and industries.

The accolade was presented at AAI’s 70th Anniversary Gala event in New York on Tuesday evening.

As Africa’s largest mobile network operator, MTN has contributed to a revolution in the way Africans communicate with each other and the world – bridging the digital divide, catalysing economic growth, and raising living standards across the continent,” said AAI President and CEO Kofi Appenteng.

“MTN has been fundamental in supporting collaboration and the continent’s ability to share its achievements and history, something that is at the core of AAI’s mission. MTN’s work and that of its foundations is an inspiration. The company’s commitment to inclusive connectivity, gender equality, accelerating financial inclusion, and empowering employees and communities deserves recognition,” he added.

MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita accepted the award on behalf of MTN’s more than 17 000 employees across 19 markets: “We are humbled by this recognition. We are also inspired and encouraged to continue to drive digital and financial inclusion and create shared value. We believe this work gives Africans dignity, hope, and opportunity.”

Latest data from the GSMA and Broadband Commission shows that for every 10% increase in internet use, GDP grows by an additional 1.5%. However, a third of the world’s population does not use the internet at all.

These people are still not digitally connected and could well end up as a digital underclass,” said Mupita, adding that priority must be given to investments in digital infrastructure and services to avoid even more inequality. “We must ensure that as technologies such as AI develop, we also get large language models trained on African languages. Initiatives such as conversational payments that are taking root in places like India must come rapidly to Africa.”

MTN Group’s Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer Nompilo Morafo said the AAI recognition was both a validation and an inspiration for MTN’s commitment to responsible business practices and sustainable growth. “Our business has always been about more than connectivity; it’s about empowering communities, driving inclusion, championing diversity, and ensuring that our operations leave a positive, lasting impact.”

The AAI’s Annual Awards Gala, held during the United Nations General Assembly, is a marquee event celebrating the accomplishments of Africa and its global diaspora. The gathering attracts a diverse audience, including heads of state, diplomats, international officials, philanthropists and business leaders.

As we celebrate this esteemed recognition, we are reminded that our work is far from complete,” said Morafo. “This award fuels our resolve to intensify our efforts. Working together, with our partners, communities, governments, and other stakeholders, we will continue to champion initiatives that drive Africa’s digital transformation and socio-economic betterment,” she added.

To focus MTN’s CSI efforts and maximise their impact, MTN launched our first foundation in 2001 in South Africa. Since then, we have rolled out another 12 foundations across 18 markets and impacted the lives of more than 40 million people in the last four years alone. We focus on strategically building an ICT ecosystem to deliver greater inclusion to the most vulnerable, with a special focus on enabling digital skills for digital jobs to address job creation, enhance competitiveness, and drive inclusive growth for the communities we serve.

In the first half of 2023, MTN Group delivered resilient results, advanced our strategy by partnering with Mastercard on the MTN fintech business, and progressed plans to exit Afghanistan. This was achieved in a difficult operating environment marked by elevated inflation, weaker local currencies and regulatory developments across our 19 markets.

“We delivered a resilient performance in H1 23 and made good strategic progress against a tough macro backdrop,” said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita.

“In South Africa, we were very encouraged by the improved network availability on the back of our power-resilience investment, resulting in a stronger Q2 23 performance than Q1 23,” he said. By end-June, MTN South Africa’s network availability was more than 90% despite severe electricity shortages across the country.

“In Nigeria, we delivered a very strong operational result, having navigated the cash shortages in Q1 23 and increased inflation,” Mupita said. “The policy changes implemented in Nigeria in Q2 23 have short-term negative impacts, but we see these as being very constructive for the investment climate in the medium to longer term.”

MTN Group’s service revenue grew 15% to almost R108 billion in constant-currency terms. This was driven by increases in revenue from data services of 24% and from fintech services of 22%. Revenue from voice services increased 6% in the period. 

At the end of June 2023, we had 292 million subscribers with whom we worked to create shared value. This subscriber base – 4% higher than the same period last year – benefited from lower data rates and improved access to broadband services.

To facilitate the digital economy, we increased the number of active data users by more than 7% to nearly 140 million; reported a 19% increase in overall data traffic; and improved data affordability by reducing the average effective rate per megabyte by more than 22%.

We continued to invest in world-class networks and platforms for the people of Africa, committing R17.2 billion in capital expenditure in the first six months of 2023. The Group’s balance sheet remained strong, with all key metrics well within the limits of our loan covenants.

Driven by solid revenue growth and improved efficiencies, adjusted headline earnings per share (HEPS) increased by 25% to 749 cents and adjusted return on equity (ROE) expanded by one percentage point to 24.4%. These were in line with our medium-term guidance.

The MTN Group Fintech business delivered on our rapid expansion plans. The volume of transactions increased by 37% to 8.3 billion in the first half of the year. These were executed by 61 million active MoMo customers.

Following the bespoke process to identify and potentially introduce strategic minority investors into MTN Group Fintech, we executed commercial agreements with Mastercard to support the acceleration and growth of our fintech business’s payments and remittance services.

MTN and Mastercard also signed a memorandum of understanding which provides for a minority investment by Mastercard into Group Fintech based on a total enterprise valuation of about US$5.2 billion for the business on a cash and debt-free basis. Signing of the definitive investment agreements is expected to occur in the very near term as we approach finalisation of customary due diligence. The closing of the investment will be subject to customary closing conditions.

We continued to work to simplify our portfolio. The process for MTN Group to exit Afghanistan in an orderly fashion through the sale of our entire shareholding to Investcom AF, and affiliate company of M1, remains well on track. The transaction received conditional regulatory approval to proceed, pending the submission of relevant documentation to the Afghanistan Regulatory Authority.

Looking ahead, MTN will keep working to create shared value across our markets. “We are focused on the continued execution of our Ambition 2025, which remains relevant in the current macroeconomic volatility and presents attractive scope for growth,” said Mupita.

“As we manage the challenges in our operating environment, as well as the near-term impacts on our top-line and margins, we maintain our medium-term guidance.” 

MTN Group is pleased to announce that we have joined the Global Network Initiative (GNI), signalling our commitment to strengthen and innovate our digital human rights efforts.

The GNI is a multi-stakeholder organisation whose mission is to protect and advance freedom of expression, privacy, and other key digital human rights by setting a global standard for responsible decision-making for companies across the information and telecommunications sector.

“Our commitment to digital human rights is an integral part of our business strategy and sustainability framework and is embedded in the highest levels of our governance structures. This membership is one example of our commitment to continuously evolve and innovate our approach in addressing human rights risk and the way we conduct our business,” says MTN Group Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer Nompilo Morafo.

“We believe that digital and financial inclusion cannot be achieved without deliberate efforts to respect the rights of all. MTN’s GNI membership allows us to explore new ways of safeguarding the rights of our customers and other stakeholders using the power of collective learning and collaboration with multiple stakeholders,” she adds.

GNI members commit to implementing the GNI Principles, which are based on internationally recognised laws and standards for human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The GNI Principles, along with the GNI and Implementation Guidelines, provide a framework for responsible company decision-making in support of freedom of expression and privacy rights.

“GNI and its 90 members will greatly benefit from MTN’s perspective, and we are particularly pleased to be continuing to expand into new geographies. We look forward to working with MTN to help protect the human rights of its customers and stakeholders,” said GNI Executive Director Jason Pielemeier.

The GNI regularly facilitates opportunities for members to contribute to shared learning and provides a forum for collective advocacy with governments and other key stakeholders in support of laws and policies that promote and protect freedom of expression and privacy.

MTN’s digital human rights framework adopts a pragmatic approach to systematically entrench digital human rights across the Group. Implementing the GNI Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy will further strengthen our approach.

MTN Group has joined forces with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) Meta, ICMEC (the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children) and Child Helpline International, with the support of the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to launch the Help Children be Children campaign and the Child Safety Online Africa Portal to increase public awareness of the impact of Child Sexual Abuse Material and help prevent its spread in target countries on the African continent.

From 2019 to 2020, the number of reports received by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) of child sexual abuse images and videos uploaded from the African continent grew by a staggering 81% to almost 2,4 million.

This new campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the gradual increase of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) and how it can be reported by the public in target countries. Additionally, the campaign will help train law enforcement and child helplines in target countries, positively engage policymakers and stakeholders through roundtables, to join the global fight against CSAM.

Nompilo Morafo, Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer said, “Protecting children online is a global challenge, which requires a global approach. As we lead digital solutions for Africa’s progress, we have a critical role in ensuring that every African child is kept safe online. In alignment with our African values, we need to join forces to create a safe online village for our children. One where they are free from fear, humiliation, and abuse. One where they can have a normal childhood.”

MTN funded the development of the Child Safety Online Africa Portal and awareness campaign in partnership with the IWF. The portal is aimed at eradicating the spread of child sexual abuse online and provides internet users with a tool to report any record of child sexual abuse material available online across the continent. 

Emma Hardy Communications Director at the IWF said “We have successfully launched 49 portals all around the world, including 23 in Africa, providing a tool to report illegal imagery to millions. Through the portals, the IWF and its partners such as MTN are working with governments, law enforcement units and other organisations to enable every single person to report child sexual abuse material online.”

Images and videos of child sexual abuse show real children who have been victims of some of the worst forms of abuse. By reporting child sexual abuse material online through the portal, photos and videos will be assessed by IWF’s experienced analysts and removed from the internet if confirmed to be child sexual abuse in nature.

David Miles, Head of Safety at Meta for Europe, Middle East and Africa said: “For more than a decade, we’ve been an industry leader in child safety around the world. We’ve helped build the tools used to investigate this terrible crime, rescue children and bring justice to victims. While we invest heavily in industry-leading tools to prevent such abuse from happening in the first place, it’s also important we spread awareness through campaigns and partnerships like this one so no child should ever have to face this abuse, whether offline or online.”

Bob Cunningham, President & CEO of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, said, “The prevalence of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is a growing threat in Africa and around the world. Every time abusive images are viewed or shared, children are revictimised. Therefore, it is essential that CSAM is reported, and local authorities have the tools and capacities to protect child victims. This awareness campaign is a crucial step to reaching parents, caregivers, and communities to help prevent future abuse before it happens.”

Patrick Krens, Executive Director at Child Helpline International said: “If we want to be more effective and efficient in our combat against online sexual exploitation and abuse of children and young people we must invest more time, money and human resources in the 3Ps of Prevention, Protection and Prosecution. For all three areas it is important to listen to what children have to say to us and each other. Every child has a voice, and we believe that no child should be left unheard.”  

Carmen Corbin, Advisor for the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime, Global Programme on Cybercrime in Africa said “Building strong capacities in the national criminal justice sectors in Africa to investigate and prosecute online child exploitation is one of our programme’s priorities. But we are also aware that public awareness and prevention campaigns are the first line of defence that will make communities, families, and children able to avoid and report child sexual abuse material online. We want a safer Internet for all children, a place where they can learn, play and develop their talents without being threatened by predators”.

While 23 countries in Africa have already stepped up and developed their own portal or hotline, the Child Safety Online Africa Portal will be accessible in countries where there is not yet a reporting mechanism to ensure even more countries on the continent are able to report child sexual abuse material.

To help children be children today, for tomorrow, report child sexual abuse material through this portal: africachildsafety.com