MTN Group said yesterday that it has rolled out a total of 100,000 kilometres terrestrial fibre optic footprints across its market operations in a bid to extend affordable broadband services to underserved communities.
MTN Group Consumer Executive, Enzo Scarcella who disclosed this, said it is part of MTN’s multi-pronged approach to accelerate digital inclusion of marginalised groups for those in rural areas especially the elderly, women and the youth and bring about broader socioeconomic development.
Scarcella said the goal is to deliver on the company’s strategic intent – Ambition 2025: Leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress – to ensure that everyone in MTN’s markets can enjoy the benefits of a modern connected life through its CHASE roll out broadband coverage.
“Providing a quality broadband network is essential, but not enough: there are various other interventions required to make sure that no-one is left behind. People also need 3G-enabled handsets; affordable data; relevant service offerings; as well as education to equip them with the skills to make the most of all that the mobile internet has to offer,” Scarcella said.
To ensure sufficient coverage in rural areas, in 2021 MTN increased the number of rollout partners and introduced new partnership models, rolling out 912 rural sites. This expanded coverage to more than 23 million people in rural areas, up from 8.5 million in 2020. By the end of 2021, MTN’s total broadband coverage was 83 per cent of the population.
Through MTN Global Connect, we continued to build the infrastructure to connect African countries to each other and the rest of the world. We rolled out more than 15, 000km of terrestrial fibre, bringing our total footprint to 100, 000km, Scarcella added.
To increase data service affordability, in 2021 we reduced our effective data tariff by 15.3 per cent. To test affordability in line with United Nations and ECOWAS guidelines, we benchmarked MTN data pricing across operations. We found that 11 MTN markets have data prices that are within the UN’s recommended affordability range.
To increase the affordability of and customer access to data-enabled devices, in 2021 we placed 3.1 million 3G and 4G devices in the hands of our customers. We increased the number of vendors from whom we procure handsets and with whom we have agreements, ensuring that customers can access after-sales service. We also offered an MTN-approved device that is 20 per cent cheaper than a comparable handset.
By partnering with M-KOPA, we supported device financing to customers in Uganda and Ghana. In 2022, we are extending this to Nigeria and Zambia.
“CHASE clearly defines the work that we need to do, and helps keep everyone at MTN focused,” said Scarcella, adding that extending digital and financial inclusion across the African continent also supports the group’s strategic priority to create shared value. “No one must get left behind, regardless of their location, age or socio-economic standing.”