Telecommunications group MTN has made strides in implementing its Bright strategy, with social and economic impact reported across its markets in Africa and the Middle East during the year ended December 31, 2019.
The group on March 31 published its 2019 integrated, sustainability and tax reports, highlighting how the company delivered growth and unlocked value by continuing to focus on executing its Bright strategy.
“Our 2019 integrated report highlights the progress we have made against our strategy and the value created by developing and distributing a range of innovative and reliable communication products and services,” said MTN Group CEO and president Rob Shuter.
“The work we have done on strengthening our operations and balance sheet over the last few years positions us well to weather the more turbulent operating environment,” he continued.
With momentum made in commercial, strategic and financial initiatives, MTN’s medium-term guidance framework has been lifted.
“While we maintain our service revenue growth, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) margin improvement, capital expenditure intensity reduction and return on equity improvement targets, we have increased our targets for the next three to five years to secure at least a further R25-billion in asset realisations which will further moderate our leverage ratios,” he explained.
During 2019, MTN invested R26-billion into its networks and systems, as well as contributed tax amounting to R31-billion, up from R24-billion in 2018.
Tax contributions, including corporate taxes, indirect taxes, withholding taxes, payroll taxes, operating licence fees and other payments to government authorities, of R4.6-billion were made in South Africa and R6.7-billion in Nigeria.
Further tax contributions of R9.3-billion, R6.7-billion and R3.2-billion stemmed from MTN’s Southern and East Africa; Ghana, West and Central Africa and Middle East and North Africa markets respectively.
The group also aims to drive broader socioeconomic benefits for society in an effort to contribute to the meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
“I believe we can achieve this if we come together through our connected and shared humanity to collaborate effectively through partnerships,” Shuter commented.
The 2019 sustainability report shows progress under environmental, social, governance and economic strategies.
MTN, with its partners, deployed over 1 300 sites to reach 6.9-million people over the past year under its rapid rural roll-out programme; successfully blocked two-million URLs containing child sexual abuse material under its Internet Watch Foundation partnership to make children safer online; and signed up to the GSMA-led industrywide plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement.
MTN reported the saving of 28 889 t of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019 – its highest to date – despite an increase in energy consumption owing to the growth of the network.
In addition, the telco reached over 1.9-million beneficiaries, over 400 000 of whom were women and over 300 000 youth, through its corporate social investment.
Further, MTN reported the completion of ethics e-learning by over 10 000 staff, while more than 1 800 vendors were prequalified following a due diligence process and over 130 calls were made to a tip-offs anonymous whistle-blower line, a significant increase from previous years.
Lastly, through MTN’s Chase model, the company distributed over 675 000 affordable low-cost smartphones in 2019, and reduced its effective rate per megabyte by 39%.
“Access to the Internet has the power to change lives and bridge inequalities, we are contributing to accelerating digital and financial inclusion by connecting the unconnected,” Shuter said.