South Africa’s telecoms giant MTN ramps up efforts to support customers and communities as COVID-19 spreads across markets

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In a statement to TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C. on Monday, mobile telecommunications giant MTN revealed that 17 of its 21 markets have COVID-19 infections, adding that it was ramping up efforts to support customers and communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“MTN’s priority is keeping people connected during this period.  We need to play our part in the alleviation of the economic, social and educational impact through the support of key institutions such as Health and Education.  Driven by our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life, we have started rolling out a series of mobile connectivity, digital and mobile fintech solutions for communities across MTN’s markets,” said Rob Shuter, President and CEO of MTN Group.

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The company said solutions are aimed at achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and to ensure that the macro impact of COVID-19 does not hinder people’s ability to stay connected.

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The company said: “Social distancing amongst other precautionary interventions undoubtedly increases the importance of communities staying digitally connected, particularly to news about the latest developments of COVID-19.  Now more than ever, MTN will play its part in using its capabilities and technologies for the good of humanity.

“We are also ramping up the roll-out of relief products under our Y’ello Hope package including the supporting of governments and other stakeholders to convey vital information via mobile & digital platforms to keep people safe. Offering the zero-rating of school and university sites to enable learners to access core curriculum and facilitate distance learning and zero-rating some transactions on our Mobile Money platforms in a number of our markets.

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“MTN operations have already implemented measures aimed at curbing the spread of the disease and easing data costs for communities”.

Check some examples below as listed by MTN

  • MTN South Africa:
  • has zero-rated a USSD line for reporting infections and for other critical information.
  • There are also two zero-rated Ayoba COVID-19 channels that are already live and are sharing updated news and information.
  • As part of MTN SA’s response to the Competition Commission’s Data Service Market Inquiry, the company also announced that with immediate effect, concerned family members and friends can stay in touch through a free 20MB Ayoba Data Lifeline that can be accessed via the Ayoba app.
  • The Mobile Money (MoMo) app, will allow for free peer-to-peer cash payments under R200 effective 24 March 2020.
  • MTN Nigeria:
  • MTN Ghana:
    • MTN MoMo customers can now send money transfers values up to GHS100 daily to MoMo wallets and other networks for free.
    • The company has zero-rated a number of education sites to support online learning. It has also zero-rated the Ghana Health Service’s website so that users can access information about the virus free of charge.
    • They also use their digital channels to provide hygiene tips and update customers on the virus and the company’s response to it.
  • MTN Irancell has reduced data costs by 60 % for educational websites, it sends awareness messages via SMS and provides access to value added service content at discounted prices. The company also supports health care workers by providing them with free calls;
  • MTN Sudan, in collaboration with their Ministry of Health, has sent awareness messages to customers via SMS;
  • MTN Uganda has waived fees on its mobile money transfer service for every transaction below UGX30,000 for 30 days;
  • MTN Rwanda has waived fees on mobile money transactions for the next 90 days;
  • MTN Zambia has waived fees on mobile money transfers up to K150, has doubled the mobile money transaction limits and will give an allocation of FREE SMSs to customers;
  • MTN Cameroon has suspended the payment of fees on money transfers between MTN MoMo accounts, for amounts of up to 20, 000 FCFA, for the next 30 days.

“These initiatives are ones that have been activated thus far. We expect more momentum over the coming weeks with other affected markets rolling out similar initiatives aimed at addressing their communities’ needs during this period. We will continue to update our stakeholders accordingly as and when additional activities go live.

“Access to information is a priority and we remain committed to providing all our 251 million customers and stakeholders with superior products and services in the face of adversity,” MTN added.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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