President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has observed that the immense contribution of MTN Ghana to the economic and digital transformation of Ghana is worthy of commendation and emulation by other companies in the country.
He was speaking at the launch of the 25th Anniversary celebration of telecoms market leader, MTN Ghana in Accra
“Myself and all Ghanaians give you a big Ayekoo for the many successes you have chalked over the past 25 years and for your immense contribution to our national development agenda,” the president said.
Scancom Ghana Limited, the local holding company of MTN, was incorporated in Ghana in 1994 and they started postpaid mobile cellular service operation in 1996 under the brand name of Spacefon.
Over the years, they metamorphosed into Spacefon-Areeba, Areeba then finally to MTN. In all this transitions, the company has maintained market leadership, being the first to start GSM service, first to start 3G, Mobile Money and the first telco do 4G LTE among many other firsts, including being the first to launch an IPO (initial public offer) to let Ghanaians own shares in the company.
In all this, MTN has on several occasion won awards for being the largest corporate taxpayer and promptly so, as well as creating direct jobs for over half a million Ghanaians and also laying the foundation for several young Ghanaians to create tech startups, some of which have grown into large and globally competitive companies.
President Akufo-Addo noted that MTN Ghana has been a very committed partner to government in the Digital Ghana Agenda aimed at making ICT and digitization available to all.
“You have lived up to you “Everywhere you go” slogan by investing into a robust and resilient network to support our digitization agenda,” he said. “With companies like MTN in Ghana we are confident that Ghana cannot be left out of the global digital evolution.”
The President also made particular mention of MTN’s support for his government’s Ghana Cares Obaatampa program aimed reducing poverty and making life better for Ghanaians across the length and breadth of the country.
Indeed, the MTN Group President and CEO, Ralph Mupita, on his recent visit to Ghana made a pledge that MTN has addressed itself to the laudability of the Ghana Cares program and they are fully committed to supporting government to make it work.
President Akufo-Addo noted that MTN Ghana excellently reflects the attributes of the MTN Group, which he said, has contributed immensely to the transformation and improvement of livelihoods across the African continent.
He could not look past MTN’s huge contribution to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, which stands out as the single biggest support from a corporate organization in Ghana to date.
Startups and Museum
MTN gave GHC5 million worth of PPEs to government, zero-rated several education and health websites, as well as government websites, plus they have so far donated over 360,000 AstraZeneca vaccines to Ghana through the African Union.
While lauding MTN for their commitment to national development, the President also asked the telecom giant to support government drive at growing tech startups in the country.
“Through the Accra Digital Centre initiative, government is providing state of the art commercial office spaces for ICT and BPOs and training for the youth and entrepreneurs in the ICT industry. I am charging MTN Ghana to also look at investing in promoting of start apps, reducing the gender digital divide and stimulating the vibrant technology hub space,” he said.
The President also observed that the achievement of MTN over the past 25 years has placed Ghana’s telecoms industry on a pedestal that is worth showcasing to the world.
He therefore urged them to work with the Communications Ministry “to establish a telecommunication museum to chronicle and showcase our development and achievement in theses sector because we have a lot of story to tell.”
President Akufo-Addo also urged MTN to support government’s National Broadband Development Program aimed at spreading some 2,016 telecom towers across the country to improve rural telephony, connect the unserved and under-served and also make national roaming possible.
On her part, Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu Ekuful said MTN has succeeded in making Ghanaians say “Yello” instead of “Hello” by proving that their “Everywhere you go” slogan is not just a mantra but a value their are committed to.
She noted that, as an industry person in her past life, she can confirm that while other industry players were looking on, MTN deliberately took high risks and invested heavily to deliver on their promise to Ghanaians.
“Your heavy investment has impacted the entire Ghanaian economy and we congratulate you on that,” she said.
The Minister said the level of commitment from companies like MTN gives government the confidence that, emerging from Covid-19 and going into hosting AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) head office, Ghana is set to be the digital hub of Africa.
Touching on the declaration of MTN as a significant market power (SMP), the Minister noted that the intent was not to curtail the growth of the company, but rather to leverage of their growth to develop the entire ecosystem.
“I urge you to take advantage of your position and the regulatory interventions to work with other players in the industry for the benefit of their entire populace through national roaming, ECOWAS roaming and other areas of collaboration,” she said.
On his part, MTN Ghana CEO, Selorm Adadevoh assured the President that MTN has set up a US$25million fund to support the tech ecosystem in Ghana, making particular mention of the IT Park to be developed in Ghana.
He said MTN is also investing some US$150million in network development and expansion across the country to connect the unserved and under-served areas, and hence, help government national broadband and national roaming agenda succeed.
According to him, over the last 25 years, MTN has invested a whopping US$6 billions in Ghana, which is indicative of its commitment to the Ghanaian economy, because in some case, it kept investing even when it was not making profits.
“For instance, for six years we invested heavily in Mobile Money without getting anything back but we had confidence in the governance and political stability of the country,” he said.
True to the words of the Minister, while MTN was making all the investments into mobile money, some telcos just sat by, while others even rubbished MTN’s model, claiming to have the mobile money blueprint.
Today, MTN Mobile Money is the overwhelmingly biggest mobile money platform in the country and it is set to offer 30 per cent shares to Ghanaians, as required by regulation.
Selorm Adadevoh said, having maintained leadership position in all industry developments and innovations, MTN is now at the point of pursuing an agenda dubbed “Ambition 2025” aimed at turning the network into a platform player focusing mainly on Fintech solutions, digital/Ayoba platform, enterprise, network as a service and an API marketplace.
“In this strategy, we see exciting opportunities for mobile commerce where fintech intersects with our ayoba business. We are hoping to aggregate APIs to accelerate the digital ecosystem expansion E.g., a customer should never need to interact with an agent to manage their MTN experience; all SMEs should be able to become digital without IT skills inhouse by leveraging our platforms and by so doing can pay taxes digitally through MoMo; we should be able to use QR codes for trotro or taxi payments; we must have the ability to pay tolls by scanning car number plates; we should be able to track criminals through digital safety cameras on our streets and from artificial intelligence, identify the national ID card details for a camera image and lastly, we should be able to stamp out MoMo fraud using a similar artificial intelligence identity tracking algorithm,” he said.
MTN is using the entire year to rollout various activities that are particularly rewarding to its customers and stakeholders all year round.