MTN announces $13.5 million relief package to tackle COVID-19 pandemic in Africa

MTN Group on Wednesday announced it was setting aside a $13.5 million (R250 million) relief package to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic across its operations in 21 markets.

“We believe it is the responsibility of all organizations to assist where they can during the pandemic,” said Mcebisi Jonas, the Chairman of MTN Group.

“MTN plays a vital role in the mobile and telecommunications industry across Africa and the Middle East and it is vital that we assist our employees, customers and stakeholders during this difficult time.”

MTN said the money would be used to respond to COVID-19 at home market in South Africa and in other 20 countries where it operates.

The money would go to employees, customers and vulnerable groups. It would also be used as a contribution to the South African Government’s Solidarity Fund and for “participating in industry interventions,” MTN said.

“Believing that charity “begins at home”, the Group plans to raise R40 million for the MTN Global Staff Emergency Fund for employees in need.  The funds will be raised by contributions from the Group’s directors, managers and general staff. The Chairman, Group CEO, Group CFO and a number of MTN Group directors have pledged 30% of their board fees and salaries for the next three months. The executive teams of both MTN Group and MTN South Africa have also contributed to the fund. In addition, other staff members can also contribute by making salary sacrifices,” MTN wrote in a statement received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington DC.

It said over R150 million will be invested in the Y’ello Hope Package for customers – that includes free SMS services, the waiving of fees for certain mobile money transactions, discounted calling during off-peak periods, zero-rating of certain health, social services and educational sites and payment concessions to our business customers.

“Utilising our services and technologies for the greater good is key at the moment.  We can positively impact millions of lives and our main focus is on keeping our network in good working order and enable our customers to connect with their loved ones during this most difficult time for all,” said Rob Shuter, MTN Group President and CEO.

MTN said it was also “mobilizing the work of the MTN Foundations across the markets to reach those most vulnerable through contributions towards tackling health emergencies to minimize the spread of COVID-19 (Disease Commodity Packages and ICT services needed for Health Ministries and Health professionals); and enabling students to remain productive by accessing vital school and university content with a total contribution of at least R50 million.”

“MTN was born at the dawn of South African democracy and owes its heritage to the place of its birth.  MTN Group will also contribute R10 million to the South African Government’s Solidarity Fund. MTN will also leverage its knowledge and infrastructure in the continued participation in the many forums that have been set up to assist those in need,” the group added.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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