MTN ranked as Africa’s most valuable brand – again

For the second year in a row, MTN Group has been named the most valuable African brand in the Brand Finance Africa 150 rankings, which assigned the group a brand value of US$2.7 billion – US$1.0 billion above the next most valuable brand.

A report on the 2021 survey’s findings states that “the telecoms giant dominates on home soil too, this year holding onto its decade-long reign as South Africa’s most valuable brand”.

Brand value is defined as the “net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market”.

Brand Finance Africa said the value of the continent’s top 150 brands fell by a combined US$5.5 billion in 2021, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic creating uncertainty and impacting brands’ ability to do business as usual. In 2020, it had assigned MTN a brand value of US$3.3 billion.

MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita said the latest accolades were achieved thanks to the hard work of MTNers across the continent and their commitment to bringing to everyone in 17 African markets the benefits of a modern connected life.

“We are both humbled and inspired by the confidence our customers and broader stakeholders continue to place in the MTN brand. At the core, a brand is about exceeding promises, expectations and delivering true value,” Mupita said.

“MTNers know this is the work that needs to be done every day, everywhere, as we remain focused on our core belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life.”

2Africa – Now the longest subsea cable in the world

The 2Africa consortium, comprised of China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC, announced today the addition of a new segment – the 2Africa PEARLS branch – extending to the Arabian Gulf, India, and Pakistan. This extension will bring the total length of the 2Africa cable system to over 45,000 kilometers, making it the longest subsea cable system ever deployed. 

Now connecting three continents, Africa, Europe and Asia terrestrially through Egypt, 2Africa creates unique connectivity by adding vital landing locations in Oman (Barka), UAE (Abu Dhabi and Kalba), Qatar (Doha), Bahrain (Manama), Kuwait (Kuwait), Iraq (Al-Faw), Pakistan (Karachi), India (Mumbai), and a fourth landing in Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar). The new 2Africa branch joins recently announced extensions to the Canary Islands, the Seychelles, Comoros Islands, Angola, and a new landing to south-east Nigeria.

As with other 2Africa cable landings, capacity will be available in PEARLS landings at carrier-neutral facilities or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis, encouraging and supporting the development of a healthy internet ecosystem.  

To further support a burgeoning global digital economy, the expanded system will serve an even wider range of communities that rely on the internet for services from education to healthcare, and businesses, providing economic and social benefits that come from increased connectivity. As announced in May 2020, 2Africa was planned to directly bring seamless international connectivity to 1.2 billion people. Today, with 2Africa PEARLS, 2Africa will be providing international connectivity to an additional 1.8 billion people–that’s 3 billion people, representing 36% of the global population.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) will deploy the new system utilizing new technologies such as SDM that allow the deployment of up to 16 fiber pairs, double that of older technologies and bringing greater and more cost-effective capacity.

EDISON Alliance Members Commit to 1 Billion Lives Challenge

  • The EDISON Alliance, through the 1 Billion Lives Challenge, announced today it would accelerate digitally inclusive solutions for 1 billion people through harnessing commitments from governments, companies and other organisations globally.
  • The 1 Billion Lives Challenge brings together digital inclusion commitments in health, finance and education while spotlighting new financing mechanisms to accelerate the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The initial wave of commitments has been made by American Tower, Apollo Hospitals, Giga, the Governments of Bangladesh and Indonesia, Mastercard, MTN, Qualcomm, Southern Communities Initiative, Tony Elumelu Foundation, University of Cape Town in South Africa, Verizon, Western Union, Women in Tech and many more to come.
  • Read more about the EDISON Alliance and the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2021

The EDISON Alliance aims to improve the lives of 1 billion people through the 1 Billion Lives Challenge by increasing affordable digital access to healthcare, finance and education by 2025. Although 85% of the world’s population lives in areas covered by 4G, only half are online. Cost, not coverage, is the critical barrier to connectivity. In low-income countries, home to 650 million people, mobile broadband is 18 times more expensive than in developed countries, as a proportion of average income.

Derek O’Halloran, Head of the Platform for Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and New Value Creation at the World Economic Forum, said: “Most of the world’s population live within the coverage of broadband infrastructure. However, the lack of relevant, affordable services means that still 47% of people cannot participate and do not benefit from the internet. This challenge is about more than infrastructure – it is about the collaboration and investment needed across different industries, governments and civil society to bring safe, meaningful services to people’s lives. Today we launch the 1 Billion Lives Challenge to catalyse the commitments and silo-breaking partnerships needed to make this happen.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how critical it is to access healthcare, education and financial services online. Yet, deep inequalities persist in the affordability of digital access between least-developed and most-developed countries. The data clearly demonstrate the need for quick and decisive mobilisation of resources and commitments to closing the digital divide. With focused resources and a coordinated response, the 1 Billion Lives Challenge aims to drive change and harness businesses, organisations and governments together to reimagine a digitally inclusive future.

As we emerge from the COVID19 pandemic, it’s never been clearer that digital accessibility, affordability and usability are critical to participate in everything from education and banking to receiving basic healthcare,” said Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO, Verizon. “Through the EDISON Alliance, we aim to create a more digitally inclusive world by connecting 1 Billion Lives to this fundamental core of our society.”

By spotlighting and accelerating concrete commitments, the 1 Billion Lives Challenge aims to:

  • Accelerate the delivery of digital services for unserved and underserved populations
  • Inspire more public commitments to digital inclusion
  • Demonstrate that universal digital inclusion is an achievable goal
  • Support Alliance organisations in the achievement of their digital inclusion goals
  • Develop global relationships and sustainable, scalable models for further impact to 2030

The three sectors of health, finance and education are key areas of focus for the EDISON Alliance. Two billion people still lack access to healthcare, 1.7 billion remain unbanked and 265 million children have no access to education. Enhancing internet access to this enormous unserved population will help ensure they are not left behind in realising their basic rights. 

The EDISON Alliance’s 1 Billion Lives Challenge seeks to embed digital inclusion into the design of policies, infrastructure, and services to address the disproportionate impact that exclusion from the digital economy has on women and other underserved populations,” said Paula Ingabire, Minister for ICT and Innovation, Rwanda.

The Alliance supplies ongoing guidance and research on leading best practices to empower policy-makers and relevant stakeholders with mechanisms to make informed decisions and pioneer innovative ways of financing digital inclusion. These tools are key enablers to help achieve the 1 Billion Lives Challenge and include the Shared Principles for an Inclusive Financial System, the Guidebook for Digital Inclusion Bond Financing and the EDISON Navigator, an online tool currently being designed to provide users easy access to curated information on best practices and lessons learned in digital inclusion approaches. 

The 1 Billion Lives Challenge brings together leaders of global businesses, international organisations and governments who have pledged to improve a quantified number of lives through digitally inclusive services. The initial wave of existing and new commitments assembled to meet this challenge includes:

  • American Tower: American Tower is building 2,000 Digital Communities over the next five years to improve the quality of life for economically disadvantaged or underserved global communities by supporting connectivity worldwide through community education, healthcare access, financial inclusion and career development.
  • Apollo Hospitals: Apollo Remote HealthCare Intervention programs have provided health care services to about 16 million people across various projects as of July 2021. The aim and target for these programs is to impact an additional 20 million people in resource constrained communities by the year 2025, thus touching the lives of at least 36 million people.
  • Bangladesh: Digital Bangladesh, a vision of the government of Bangladesh, is creating unprecedented public-private partnerships to accelerate bottom-up socio-economic development. The initiative will connect over 5,000 rural and urban local government institution-based one-stop service centres with fibre optic by 2022 and 200,000 public facilities (including over 100,000 schools and more than 18,000 health clinics) with fibre, 4G/5G, and the country’s second satellite by 2025. A whole-of-government citizen-centric platform MyGov has been launched to simplify, decentralize and digitize 90% of G2C services by 2023, with most payments going cashless by 2025.
  • Giga:Giga is a global initiative, led by UNICEF and ITU, to connect every school to the internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice. This translates to a goal to achieve universal school connectivity. By 2030, Giga hopes to connect 2.8 million schools and over 500 million children.
  • Indonesia: Indonesia is accelerating the development of telecommunications infrastructure to support the growth of the digital economy, aiming not only to provide more than 12,000 villages with 4G cellular networks by the end of 2022 (10 years faster than the initial plan) but also to connect 150,000 public facilities with internet access through the launch of the Satellite of Republic of Indonesia I (SATRIA I) in 2023.
  • Mastercard:Last year, Mastercard reached its five-year goal of bringing 500 million previously unbanked people into the financial system, through more than 350 innovative programmes across 80 countries. But that is not enough, especially now that a global pandemic has made the contrasts of the digital divide even more stark. Mastercard is doubling down on its original commitment, taking everything they have learned so far and reaching to bring another 500 million people into the digital economy by 2025, for a total of 1 billion individuals. It is also committing to help 50 million small and micro merchants, with a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses.
  • MTN:MTN has committed to include financially 100 million people and 2 million SMEs by the end of 2025.
  • Qualcomm: By 2025, Qualcomm is committed to enrich the lives of 27 million people by continuing to bring technology to underserved communities around the world through their Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ programme and engage 1.5 million students and teachers across the globe in their strategic STEM initiatives.
  • Southern Communities Initiative (SCI):Led by Robert F.Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners; Rich Lesser, CEO of Boston Consulting Group and Dan Schulman, President and CEO at PayPal,SCI aims to drive more investment into six southern communities in the United States that are home to half of all African Americans, reducing the digital divide in nearly four million households over the next 10 years (about 3 million households, or 9 million people, by 2025). SCI is also working to dismantle systemic inequities and the digital divide, and increasing access to education, connectivity and jobs.
  • Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF): Through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, a $100 million commitment by leading investor and philanthropist Tony Elumelu, the foundation has empowered over 10,000 African entrepreneurs from across all 54 African countries with funding, training, mentorship and access to key networks. It is inspired by his philosophy of Africapitalism that positions the private sector, and young entrepreneurs in particular, as key players in eradicating poverty and transforming Africa. Through its TEFConnect platform, the foundation aims to support up to 10 million Africans by 2030.
  • University of Cape Town, South Africa:The universityis committed to digital inclusion in Africa. Through its “one student, one laptop” initiative, the university aims to provide 3,000 high-quality laptops every year to students on financial aid. In addition, the university’s Online High School programme aims to provide quality education to 1,000 students every year through connected, digital technologies and an open, freely available self-paced curriculum.
  • Verizon: Verizon is dedicated to economic, environmental and social advancement, and has committed $3 billion to help those who need it most across a five-year span through 2025. This includes 10 million youths provided with digital skills training by 2030, 1 million small businesses provided with resources to help them thrive in the digital economy by 2030, 100% net-zero operational emissions by 2035, 500,000 individuals prepared for jobs of the future by 2030, and $3 billion in green bond issuances (three bonds issued at $1 billion).
  • Western Union: Through the global pandemic, the international flow of remittances has remained more resilient than other private capital flows. In the post-pandemic economic rebuilding that lies ahead, there will be significant need for innovation and technology to keep financial support flowing across borders, particularly to developing countries. When this money moves fluidly, good things happen. A child goes to school, a business expands, emergency aid arrives the moment it is needed. That is why Western Union is committed to enabling 300 million people to digitally connect to the global economy through mobile wallets by 2025.
  • Women in Tech: Women in Tech is committed to empower 1 million women and girls in STEM by 2025 across 6 continents through skilling, mentorship, advocacy and community support. In addition, our social impact fully online school HER Digital Academy aims to provide 100.000 students quality education in web development programs and digital technology, building skills and confidence to best equip them for the future of work. Women in Tech is an international non-profit organization on a mission to close the gender gap and to help women embrace technology.

Visit the website to learn more and join the 1 Billion Lives Challenge.

MTN GlobalConnect launches 5G International Roaming with Smart Communications, Inc. Philippines in South Africa

MTN South Africa network will be the first mobile operator in Africa to provide access to 5G technology to customers from the Philippines through its international roaming agreement with the Philippines’ leading mobile services provider, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart). The agreement delivers on MTN’s and Smart’s commitment to keeping its travelers connected and providing them with access to 5G; both at home and when travelling as capable devices become available.

Customers of Smart in South Africa can enjoy 5G roaming access when they subscribe to Smart’s GigaRoam 1GB roaming plan for only P999 valid for 5 days. To subscribe, simply access or the GigaLife app.

“This is part of Smart’s commitment to bring our world-class services anywhere in the world by expanding our 5G roaming coverage in Africa, after our successful rollout with 46 partners in Europe, USA, Middle East and Asia,” said Ray Arsenal, AVP and Head of Roaming Partnerships.

“We’re excited to launch 5G roaming in South Africa with Smart’s network because of what it means for customers,” said Arne Casteleyn, General Manager – International Roaming, MTN GlobalConnect. “With MTN Y’ello Connect Roaming Hub and our central Roaming team, we never stop innovating, developing and deploying faster roaming services to provide our customers with access to a next-generation network. Furthermore, providing 5G services to our visitors coming to Africa is crucial to get the same data speeds as at home and to harness trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT). We continue to ramp up the roll out of 4G, VoLTE and 5G roaming with the world’s top operators which proves MTN’s commitment to provide excellent roaming services to its travelers as travel restrictions ease with mass vaccinations.”

Established in 2018, MTN GlobalConnect is based in Dubai and its team is made up of more than 25 nationalities.

MTN Group announces new mobile money partnership with Flutterwave across Africa

Businesses integrating Flutterwave in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia can receive payments via MTN Mobile Money

MTN is pleased to announce a mobile money partnership with Africa’s leading payments technology company, Flutterwave. This partnership will allow businesses integrating Flutterwave in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia to receive payments via MTN Mobile Money (MoMo). 

MTN MoMo is a fintech platform providing consumers and businesses with an electronic wallet, enabling electronic transfers and payments as well as access to digital and financial services. At the end of June 2021, MTN MoMo had 48.9 million active users and 581,514 merchants. MoMo enables businesses to accept and make payments within the mobile money ecosystem. This new partnership will enable Flutterwave to offer MTN Mobile Money as a payment method to its business customers.

In recent years, Africa has witnessed an explosion in mobile penetration as smartphone adoption has risen rapidly. According to the GSMA, this year Africa will hit the half a billion mark of unique mobile subscribers and the continent will reach 50% subscriber penetration by 2025. Sub-Saharan Africa alone is responsible for more than 45% of the world’s mobile money accounts with the number of account holders exceeding half a billion by 2020, as shared on Statista.

Through this partnership, MTN and Flutterwave will positively contribute to this trend by increasing mobile money usage and penetration in Africa to improve local economies and livelihoods as well as create opportunities for individuals and businesses across the continent.

Commenting on the partnership, Serigne Dioum, MTN Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer said: “As we progress on our journey to becoming the largest fintech platform in Africa, we will empower millions of businesses to embrace e-commerce in our markets to accept digital payments from MoMo consumers. We believe this is an enabler to accelerating digitized payments in Africa. Building strong ecosystems through partnerships is central to our platform strategy and we will continue to invest in expanding the reach of our platform to consumers and businesses in Africa.”   

Commenting on the collaboration, Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, Founder and CEO of Flutterwave, said: “Africa has one of the highest growth rates for mobile money adoption and e-commerce in the world. It makes sense that we help provide a seamless payment method to support and ensure African businesses reap the full benefits of the e-commerce boom in the region. Our goal has always been to grow a new wave of prosperity in Africa by creating more avenues for businesses in Africa to accept payments. With this partnership, we can achieve this while creating endless possibilities for our customers.” 

The new partnership will further expand on Flutterwave’s previous collaboration with MTN, beyond Uganda and Rwanda – with the potential of deepening adoption of digital payments and e-commerce in Africa, a sector expected to reach $29 billion by 2022, according to Statista. 

ayoba launches a continent wide campaign: ‘Life inside ayoba’

MTN, in partnership with ayoba, today launched a dynamic media campaign entitled: ‘Life inside ayoba’ that will bring the African super app to life. The campaign brings together all the features of the super app including chat, voice and video calling, channels, music via playlists, gaming, micro apps as well as payment facilities in some territories.

The campaign highlights the simplicity and versatility of the app, and the advantages a user gains in using all its exciting features.

ayoba is a strategic platform for MTN as it harnesses Africa’s unique digital ecosystem and context. We believe it to be a triple-play opportunity to advance free messaging, content distribution and e-commerce powered by an open platform. Made in Africa for the World, ayoba is highly localised and tailored for African and Middle East consumer needs. This campaign is perfect for our markets, it is vibrant and relevant and is sure to appeal to all who use it,” says Serigne Dioum, MTN Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer.

MTN Group’s digital revenue increased by 23.8%* in the six months to end-June 2021, supported by the greater uptake of services. In the period, instant messaging platform ayoba recorded 8.0 million monthly active users, an addition of 2.5 million since December 2020. It has now been integrated into 18 MTN markets.

Our goal is to reach 19 million monthly active users  by the end of this year and 100 million by 2025, leveraging MTN’s existing base to scale up quickly and then grow as an OTT player in new markets.

The ayoba TV campaign is supported by radio, localised to each broadcast territory, as well as outdoor, print and on-ground activations. The message is simple – ayoba has everything you need. 

There is a need to go above the line to raise the awareness of ayoba. We strongly believe that our app will appeal to many in Africa and the Middle East and provides digital solutions to the day-to-day life of the consumer.  In building the campaign we looked at what unites our African users, rather than what divides them.  We had to show users that they can find everything they need in our all-in-one app.  This approach has brought us a textured and innovative campaign, and we are very proud of it. We are excited to launch the campaign with the full support of MTN,” says Burak Akinci, Chief Executive Officer of Simfy (ayoba).

2021 has been a busy year so far for ayoba, which celebrated its second year of operations in May 2021.

ayoba is accelerating not only digital inclusion but also financial inclusion, with MTN MoMo integrated into ayoba in select markets including Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville.  ayoba recently received the award for Best OTT Brand of the Year at the Marketing World Awards 2021.  This adds to the 2020 win for ayoba at the Africa Digital Awards for Best Mobile Application in November 2020