MTN is a South African headquartered telecommunications operator founded in 1994. It focuses on emerging markets and is one of the largest companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The company operates in Sub–Saharan Africa and also provides services in the Middle East. MTN had 280 million customers in 21 countries at the end of 2020.
MTN expands affordable and universal access to digital technologies through initiatives under its CHASE framework, such as in Zambia where it offers low-cost 3G devices and data for people from low-income backgrounds. The company also offers products designed for people with disabilities and follows best practice by reporting the number of employees with disabilities. MTN also demonstrates best practice by disclosing how the economic value it generates is distributed among stakeholders and how much income tax it pays across its countries of operations.
MTN demonstrates its efforts in this area through programmes that develop basic and intermediate digital skills as well as programmes that advance school connectivity. Based on a toolkit developed by the GSMA, MTN teaches basic digital skills in Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda. It also equips women, youth and small business owners in South Africa with software, digital marketing and user experience design skills. The company’s Digital Schools initiative has focused on improving school connectivity across Africa since 2001.
MTN is a leader in its approach to data privacy and child online protection. The company demonstrates best practice by applying the same privacy guidelines across the group and by reporting the number of government requests for personal information by country. MTN has a high-level commitment to protect children online, as evidenced through its membership of GSMA’s Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content and its partnership with the Internet Watch Foundation.
MTN supports open innovation by hosting a platform where developers across Africa can exchange code. The company also supports the tech innovation ecosystem through hackathons and initiatives for black-owned small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
MTN can support digital opportunities for women and girls. The company can also report its contribution and other metrics regarding its programme focused on expanding affordable access to digital technologies. MTN should disclose how it applies accessible design principles and how it solicits feedback from people with disabilities in its product design. While the company reports taxes paid in its countries of operations, it can extend its country-by-country reporting to also include employment.
MTN can consider initiatives advancing technical digital skills in addition to its current efforts for digital skills development. The company has an opportunity to report its financial and in-kind contribution across all programmes, and it should conduct a third-party impact assessment to understand programme impact.
While MTN has a high-level commitment to cybersecurity, it should disclose how it manages cybersecurity in practice. The company also has an opportunity to get a certification for information security management and report data breaches it has experienced over the reporting period.
MTN has an opportunity to expand its support for open and sustainable innovation by partnering with universities and non-profit organisations on research related to new technologies and sustainability. The company should consider providing data sets publicly for the purpose of tackling sustainability challenges. MTN should also disclose the number of women it employs in technical roles and the principles it follows for ethical innovation.
Core social indicators
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
MTN commits to respecting human rights but does not commit to respecting all the ILO core labour rights, in particular the right to collective bargaining. The company identifies and takes action to address its salient human right issues in its own operations. Moreover, it has a grievance mechanism accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints. MTN describes the stakeholders it engages with in general, but it does not specify whether it engages with stakeholders whose human rights have been or may be affected by its activities. The company also has an opportunity to disclose more information on how it assesses its salient human right issues across its operations and locations.
MTN publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers but does not place this requirement on its business relationships. The company does not specify that workers are not required to work more than 60 hours a week including overtime. Additionally, while it mentions that 5% of its employees are unionised in South Africa, it does not clarify what percentage of its global workforce is covered by collective bargaining agreements.
Furthermore, MTN does not disclose any commitment towards paying its workers a living wage. The company commits to gender equality and women’s empowerment but does not have time-bound targets on the subject. In relation to workforce diversity, MTN provides a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by gender. However, it does not disclose this information against any other indicators of diversity.
MTN has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships. It also has a grievance mechanism for stakeholders to raise concerns and complaints. The company also discloses a global tax strategy and the country-by-country taxes it has paid in its main markets. MTN discloses its approach to lobbying and political engagement in a publicly available policy statement. But it does not specify that it makes no political contributions and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.