MTN, working together in N600bn socio-economic investment

From Left: Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola; Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya; Editor, Saturday Guardian/Recipient, MTN 20th Anniversary Honda SUV, Francis Chuks Nwanne; and ace comedian, Tunde ‘Tee A’ Adewale, at the MTN 20th Anniversary celebrations at the company’s Headquarters in Ikoyi, on Sunday.

.Focuses on women, youth entrepreneurship

Clara Nwachukwu

Recognising that sustainable development is a multi-stakeholder affair, the Board and Management of MTN Nigeria Plc, says it plans to spend up to N600 billion in social investments over the next three years.

Aside from infrastructure development, parts of these investments will also focus on women and youth entrepreneurship to boost employment generation in the Nigerian ecosystem.

Giving more details in Lagos, yesterday (Sunday), at its 20th anniversary celebrations, the telecommunication giant also reiterated its commitment to the national economy for the long haul.

The Board Chairman, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, said a part of the amount would be used to “expand the national network, expand our rural connectivity to reach areas that are currently either un-served, or under-served.”

To underscore the importance of telecommunication and access to networks, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) arm of the United Nations (UN) reiterates that there will be no Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) without information and communication technology (ICT).

As a result, ITU’s Bureau of Telecommunication Development (BDT), urges a whole-government, people-centred approach that sustainably benefits communities, and people, especially in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) including Nigeria and others. 

Indeed, its “Connect 2030: ICTs for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” focuses on the five strategic goals – growth, inclusiveness, sustainability, innovation and partnership.

This becomes even more imperative as “Amidst all the disquiet, disruption and distress caused by COVID-19, digital technology has emerged as the ‘hidden hero’ of the crisis,” the UN body said.

Underscoring the inclusiveness, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola, noting that the country’s digital journey has only just begun, said: “…working together, we truly can build a more prosperous and inclusive future and society and empower even more Nigerians to do greater things.”

He noted that through the MTN Foundation, the telecoms company has continued to touch lives in the areas of health, education, arts and culture while keeping the people connected.

Working together, we truly can build a more prosperous and inclusive future and society and empower even more Nigerians to do greater things.   

Investing in women and youth

Recognising the economic empowerment of women and youth through equitable distribution of resources as a key to achieving sustainable growth, social development and environmental sustainability, MTN said it is focusing more on these demographic segments.

To this end, the newly- appointed, Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya, the company is targeting the women because they are nation-builders and decision-makers in the home.

“Part of this is to also see how we can empower female entrepreneurs; a lot is being done in partnership with the Bank of Industry. We are also going to continue to scale up our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme and scholarship, refocusing on the Nigerian youth.”

For the youths in particular, Sanya said MTN, in partnership with the Bank of Industry is opening up access to funds of up to N2 million to help them innovate and provide societal solutions that are scalable. “The young people have up to N2 million to access as a process loan and the Bank of Industry will check and do an estimate and determine how much you really need.

“On the N2 million, 20% of it or N200,000 is a grant. There is a reason why they are loans, so that recipients can be accountable in using the funds that they get. So 20% in grants but you pay back the rest at 5% flat per annum, and you have a repayment moratorium of about six months.”

She added that the entrepreneurship programme is not just about doling out monies. “There is a formal training that leads up to pitching and release of the funds.”    

She also revealed that part of MTN’s inclusive strategy is by building community adaptation and resilience, to bring the SDGs into light on a daily basis within its host communities.

“We are training people about how personal choices help individuals to adapt and to be resilient in terms of all that is happening within the environmental ecosystem; helping them, teaching them, and exposing them to how they can make better choices that preserve the environment.”

She argued that since sustainability has underlying principles of monitoring and evaluation rather than just throwing money at a problem, assessment helps in sustaining the continuity of the programme and improving the process.

As a result, she said the next five years will be an interesting one for both the audiences and for MTN, “as we open up our ecosystem of technology for young Nigerians to be able to create innovative solutions that solve social problems and scale.”

The highpoint of the 20th anniversary celebrations is the award of brand new Honda CRV 2021 series each to 20 lucky subscribers across the country, who activated their subscriber identification module (SIM) on August 8 of any year, to mark the date MTN started operations in Nigeria.

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