MTN Uganda's trailblazing 2023 milestones in Connectivity, Innovation, and Social Impact

Technology
MTN Uganda's trailblazing 2023 milestones in Connectivity, Innovation, and Social Impact
MTN Uganda CEO Sylvia Mulinge appends a digital signature to mark the launch of FMCG Digital Suite at Uganda Breweries Ltd on July 14. Looking on is UBL MD Andrew Kilonzo.

In the extraordinary year of 2023, MTN Uganda reached notable milestones, marked by remarkable innovation, impactful community initiatives, and an unwavering commitment to social responsibility. Through strategic partnerships, deliberate technological expansions, and the introduction of transformative solutions, MTN Uganda not only solidified its position but emerged as a central force shaping the intricate contours of the nation's digital landscape. As we welcome 2024, let's illuminate 13 key highlights that vividly summarize the dynamic journey of MTN Uganda throughout this transformative year.

Uganda-South Africa trade and investment summit held at Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo.

MTN Uganda celebrates 25 years of transforming lives

MTN Uganda marked its 25th anniversary this year on October 21, 1998, marking a quarter-century of commitment to transforming Uganda's telecommunications landscape and enhancing the lives of its people. This anniversary saw MTN Uganda reaffirm its dedication to innovation and excellence in the provision of telecommunication services.

Over the years, MTN Uganda has evolved beyond being a traditional telecom provider, venturing into the technology space to offer a diverse range of products and services that extend far beyond conventional telecommunications. The company's forward-looking approach reflects a commitment to meet the evolving needs of its customers in an ever-changing digital landscape.

Through its corporate social responsibility arm, the MTN Foundation, MTN Uganda has made a significant impact on communities by investing more than Shs30 billion in over 250 projects.

These initiatives span key areas such as health, education, information and communication technology (ICT), and youth empowerment, positively impacting the lives of more than 2.5 million individuals.

Currently, MTN Uganda has more than 19 million mobile subscribers, 11.6 million fintech users and 7.5 million data subscribers.

 

MTN Uganda dividend payout reach Shs 586.7billion

As the curtain descends on 2023, MTN Uganda celebrates a year of financial milestones and groundbreaking innovations. Having paid out five dividend payments since its listing on the Uganda Securities Exchange, totaling an impressive shs586.7bn, MTN Uganda underscores its commitment to creating shared value for over 20,000 shareholders.

in December 2021, MTN Uganda Limited achieved a historic feat by becoming the first Ugandan company to list a business valued over USD 1 billion. This monumental accomplishment not only solidified MTN's financial standing but also initiated a paradigm shift in Uganda's stock market dynamics.

True to its vision of ensuring widespread access to the benefits of a modern connected life, MTN Uganda has continued to revolutionize stock trading through a mobile phone platform in collaboration with the Uganda Securities Exchange.

 

MTN Uganda spearheads Uganda-South Africa Summit to foster economic ties

On Sept.05, the Uganda-South Africa Summit kicked off with great enthusiasm at the Speke Resort in Munyonyo courtesy of MTN Uganda in collaboration with key South African businesses in Uganda and key local institutions including Stanbic Uganda Holdings Limited (SUHL), ABSA Bank Uganda, Sanlam, Nile Breweries Limited, Stanbic Uganda Holdings Limited, DFCU Bank, MultiChoice Uganda and Woolworths.

The summit meant to support the Uganda government attract foreign direct investment through the upcoming Uganda-South Africa trade and investment summit. This followed a similar summit held in South Africa in February this year.

Ms. Sylvia Mulinge, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Uganda, a subsidiary of MTN Group based in South Africa and the lead sponsor of the summit, said MTN’s decision to support the summit and rally other key South African businesses and local institutions in Uganda was a response to His Excellence the President of the republic of Uganda request and its commitment to working with the government to facilitate the country’s social and economic development.

This came as available statistics from the Bank of Uganda showed that the value of the country’s exports to the South African nation continues to grow albeit at a slow pace doubling to US$ 21.24 million in the past 10 years up to 2022.

However, the value of South Africa’s exports to Uganda decreased from US$ 251.6 million to US$ 127.6 million during the same period. According to Uganda Investment Authority, Uganda’s exports to South Africa include cotton, gold, fish fillets, tobacco, coffee, and fresh flowers.

On the other hand, South Africa’s exports to Uganda include machinery, vehicles, plastics, chemicals, electronics, parts and accessories, petroleum, live animals, books and newsprint, textiles, footwear, aircraft, and household goods.

 

MTN Uganda propels digitalization with 5G Spectrum

In a strategic move to spearhead Uganda's digitalization agenda, MTN Uganda secured 5G spectrum in July of this year, a pivotal step towards ushering the nation into an era of advanced connectivity. The spectrum, awarded under the 700MHz, 2600MHz, and 2300MHz bands, has been seamlessly deployed, allowing MTN to initiate the rollout of 5G technology across Uganda, beginning with the bustling city of Kampala.

MTN-Uganda's Chief-Executive Officer Sylvia-Mulinde speaking to the press during the initial-of 5G from MTN-Uganda

The commitment to expansive connectivity is further underscored by MTN's noteworthy achievement of increasing 4G population coverage to an impressive 83.7%, reflecting a substantial 6.4 percentage point augmentation. This expansion aligns with MTN's National Telecom Operator (NTO) License geographical coverage mandate, ensuring comprehensive high-speed data services across the country.

To leverage the full potential of the acquired spectrum, MTN Uganda has intensified efforts to enhance smartphone adoption. Through an enhanced device financing proposition and strategic collaborations with phone manufacturers, alongside new partnerships with local smartphone assemblers to curtail acquisition costs, MTN has successfully increased smartphone penetration to 36.6%, marking a substantial 3.9 percentage point surge. This concerted approach has led to a remarkable 27.5% growth in smartphone users.

Also, MTN Uganda received the fastest network speed awards for the three quarters of this year by Ookla attesting to our infrastructure investment efforts.

 

MTN Uganda transitions to a technology firm

On Sept. 25, MTN Uganda embarked on a transformative journey with the introduction of "Do Business Better with MTN ICT Solutions," a pioneering initiative signaling a significant expansion of its services from telecommunications to comprehensive technology solutions.

This ground-breaking development opened the way for the company and partners to offer more products and services beyond that of a telco.  Some of the products and services includes; cloud computing, MTN Unified Communications and Collaboration suite and Internet of Things among others.

Ali Monzer, Chief Technology and Information Officer (CTIO) at MTN, emphasized the significance of this transformative initiative, stating, "We find ourselves at the brink of an even grander transformation – entering a fresh era where we shift from merely offering telecom services to empowering technology’s possibilities. We aspire not solely to acquaint you with revolutionary technologies but also to enlighten, motivate, and enable you to adopt them for your prosperity."

MTN Uganda's foray into holistic ICT solutions represents not just a service expansion but a commitment to catalyzing the technological evolution of businesses.

 

MTN Uganda rolls out 5G network services

On July 28, MTN Uganda achieved a significant milestone in its commitment to delivering the best network experience in Uganda with the launch of its next-generation 5G network.

This new infrastructure offers higher peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, increased reliability, and enhanced network capacity, ushering in a new era of connectivity for the nation.

This momentous achievement was made possible by the Uganda Communication Commission’s allocation of the 5G spectrum to MTN in June of this year. This development followed a series of extensive 5G trials and testing, beginning in 2020 and culminating in April 2023 when MTN Uganda, in collaboration with partners Huawei and Hima Cement, showcased the first commercial 5G use case in Kasese, Uganda.

"We are incredibly proud to be the first to launch a 5G network in Uganda, and we firmly believe that this cutting-edge network service will play a pivotal role in driving ICT solutions for economic growth and fostering unparalleled digital experiences for all Ugandans," stated MTN CEO Sylvia Mulinge.

MTN has currently deployed 35 5G sites in Kampala, with plans for further expansion nationwide. By embracing 5G technology, MTN Uganda aims to attract more investments, stimulate innovation, and position Uganda as a digital hub within the region.

MTN Uganda's strategic move into 5G represents not just a technological advancement but a commitment to propelling Uganda into the forefront of the digital age. As the country embraces this transformative connectivity, the potential for economic growth and innovation is boundless.

 

MTN Uganda makes 'API as a Service' available to customers

On April.14, MTN Uganda unveiled MTN 'API as a Service', a solution that provides third parties access to its proprietary software platform.  This new service enables businesses to create innovative services that will accelerate digital transformation and innovation in line with MTN's Ambition 2025.

MTN Uganda Chief Marketing Officer, Somdev Sen said during the launch that “the commercialization of MTN APIs, will provide developers with access to MTN's software platform, allowing them to create new innovations and better ways to satisfy customers faster.

He emphasized that the service presents a significant opportunity for businesses to enhance their offering and add value to their platforms with MTN services.

Ali Monzer, Chief Technology Information Officer at MTN Uganda highlighted that the API as a Service offers additional security controls to customer management processes.  He, for instance, said the MTN Sim Swap API verification of SIM swaps can be done before a transaction is successfully processed, reducing the risk of fraud and identity theft, and protecting customers' finances from theft by unknown third parties.

The MTN API platform has since gone live with four different APIs, with the promise of more to come. The MTN Sim Swap API, MTN KYC Lite API, MTN Airtime API, and MTN Subscription API will all add value to digital platforms by enabling customers to conveniently purchase MTN airtime and bundles to reward their customers, as part of loyalty programs or promotions.

The company also relaunched the Webphone with Webex solution, a digital solution that allows our customers in the diaspora to communicate at local rates.

 

MTN Uganda revolutionizing FMCG supply chains with cashless efficiency

On July 25, MTN Uganda unveiled a mobile-based supply chain platform that allows businesses in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) to place orders, generate invoices for deliveries, pay and collect returns in real-time.

The new platform dubbed FMCG Digital Suite automates the distribution of products and services and allows payment for delivered goods via MTN Mobile Money, eliminating the use of cash in the supply chain. The service has been developed by MTN’s Technology Business and fintech arm, MTN MoMo.

MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer, Sylvia Mulinge, says the new platform is in line with MTN’s Ambition 2025 Strategy that is focusing on building the largest and most valuable platform business in Africa, with a focus on driving digital transformation across various industries.

“This FMCG Digital Suite represents a significant step in our mission to empower businesses, enhance operational efficiency, and enable cashless payments within the FMCG ecosystem,” she said.

“We are privileged to collaborate with Uganda Breweries Limited, to pilot the FMCG Digital suite through their ecosystem. We encourage more other businesses to enroll on this platform to reap the benefits of a modern connected world.”

This comes as businesses are embracing digital solutions to improve efficiency, combat supply chain challenges, and reach wider markets.

 

21 Days of Y’ello Care Campaign empowers communities 

MTN Uganda unveiled its 21 Days of Y’ello Care programme mid this year seeking to provide entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed. The programme that ran from 1st to 21st June 2023, was themed “Empowering Entrepreneurs to Unlock Growth and Job Creation for Communities.”

The programme highlighted the company’s commitment to driving digital transformation and fostering economic growth across the country.

MTN Uganda CEO Sylvia Mulinge paints premises of Disability Employment Link Project Uganda located in Bwaise Kampala as part of MTN’S 21 Days of Yello Care.

MTN Uganda CEO Sylvia Mulinge, said this year’s initiative targeted grassroots entrepreneurs, providing them with essential digital and financial tools, facilitating wider market access, and offering valuable business mentoring and knowledge-sharing sessions.

Some of the beneficiaries of this year’s MTN’s 21 Days of Y’ello  Care includes; Mulungi Confectionary and Skilling center based in Mukono, Bumu Disability Development Association based in Luwero, Teso Textile Light Dynamics in Soroti City, King of Kings Multi-Investment and Consultancy Farms Ltd in Kitgum, Take a Step Women Art and Craft Organization in Hoima City, Tussakimu Women’s Group based in Kampala, Refuge and Hope International and Disability Employment Link Project Uganda, located in Bwaise, Kampala.

Now in its 16th year, the “21 Days of Y’ello Care” campaign stands as MTN’s flagship employee volunteerism initiative, designed to engage MTN staff in high-impact social projects within their local communities. Each year, the campaign focuses on a different theme, reflecting MTN’s multifaceted approach to social responsibility.

 

MTN Foundation unveils MTN Skills Academy to empower youth

MTN Uganda's corporate social responsibility arm, the MTN Foundation, unveiled MTN Skills Academy, an innovative online platform to empower Uganda's youth and bridge the digital divide.

The MTN Skills Academy, a flagship program of MTN Group, is part of the Digital Skills for Digital Jobs thematic area and was officially unveiled during the Mobile World Congress Africa in Kigali, Rwanda last year.

In partnership with key stakeholders, including the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, the National ICT Innovation Hub, ATC, and Huawei, the MTN Skills Academy is aligned with Uganda's National Development Plan III, Digital Vision 2040, the African Union's 'Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa,' and MTN's Ambition 2025, which aims to create shared value and transform the east African nation into a modern society.

MTN Uganda CEO, Sylvia Mulinge, emphasized the program's importance in addressing the critical gap between digital skills training and job placement.

"As MTN, we are committed to driving digital solutions for Africa's progress. With the launch of the MTN Skills Academy in Uganda, we aim to equip the country's youth, who are at the forefront of digitalization, with the necessary skills to advance the digitalization agenda and drive the nation's progress," she said.

Hon. Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo, the Minister of State for Information, Communications and Technology, commended MTN for its ongoing commitment to innovation and its role in driving Uganda's sustainable development through ICT.

MTN unveils MTN Changemakers; injects in Shs500million in 25 projects

 MTN Uganda’s corporate social responsibility arm, MTN Foundation, launched a social initiative dubbed MTN Changemakers in July this year aimed to transform lives of communities across Uganda.

The initiative to support local individuals and organizations driven to make a profound impact on their communities.

MTN Uganda CEO Sylvia Mulinge, said the telecom company believes in the power of Ugandans to create change in their communities. “MTN Changemakers initiative is about supporting Ugandans who are doing great work in their communities to improve people’s lives,” She said.

“Ugandans have shown themselves to be exceptional dreamers and doers. They possess the remarkable ability to take what they have and transform it into something extraordinary through passion, skill, and unwavering commitment. They have turned a highly competitive environment into a highly creative one, inspiring us all.”

The initiative supporting 25 projects focus mainly on the Foundation’s areas of economic empowerment, education, health, water and environment and agriculture.

 

MTN Uganda stakes step to boost women entrepreneurs

MTN Uganda in partnership with several companies and organisations including Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), ATC Uganda, UN Women, dfcu Bank, NSSF, MasterCard, Innovation Village and Outbox Hub in October this year unveiled the Advancing Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) initiative, a three-year programe designed to increase women participation in the top spend supply chain areas.

The partners committed to grow a supplier base by 2025 that will ensure women tech entrepreneurs benefit greatly. The programme will create pathways for business representation, strategic positioning, supplier base and financial inclusion.

MTN Uganda CEO Sylvia Mulinge said championing diversity, equity, and inclusion among organizations is the magic bullet to increasing women’s participation in information technology.

She said while the country has made commendable progress in increasing female participation in STEM programs in Uganda, there remains ample room for further advancement.

“A cursory review of our annual procurement expenditure, approximating UGX 854bn, exposes an unsettling imbalance in favour of males, with female owned businesses at 8% and women in technology or 0.4%, driven by historical factors and other complex reasons,” she said.

She added: “We must proactively involve women in shaping our society, as their inadequate representation constraints Uganda’s development, leaving vital intellect and creative potential underutilized, which is essential for enhancing productivity.”

 

MTN Foundation empowers 1,400 learners with special needs

MTN Foundation's Digital Access for Inclusion program has opened the doors of technology to nearly 1,400 learners with disabilities across five schools in Uganda this year, marking a significant investment of Shs800 million. This commitment to a connected and inclusive future underscores MTN Foundation's dedication to advancing education through technology.

The impact of the program reverberates across different regions, with Salama School for the Blind and Masaka School for the Deaf in the central region receiving 10 computers each, along with assorted equipment and a year of free internet connectivity. Similar support extended to the eastern region's Ngora School for the Deaf, the northern region's Gulu High School, and the western region's Hornby High School in Kabale.

Brian Mbasa, Senior Manager at MTN Foundation, emphasized the program's seamless alignment with MTN Uganda’s Ambition 2025 Strategy. This strategy ensures that the benefits of a modern connected life are accessible to everyone, irrespective of their socio-economic background or ability. He highlighted MTN Uganda's commitment to equipping learners with digital skills crucial for navigating the evolving job market, emphasizing that the digital skilling initiative will persist amid the ongoing 4th industrial revolution.

This initiative comes as World Bank statistics indicates that 16% of Ugandan children have a disability, suggesting that most children with disabilities are not able to attend school and that learners with special needs fail to transition from one educational level to another.

The Digital Access for Inclusion initiative is part of MTN Uganda Foundation's broader efforts to enhance information and communication technologies in schools and communities. Other institutions such as Kabale Preparatory School in Kabale District, Smart Girls Foundation in Wakiso District, and Moroto Public Library in Moroto District have also benefited from fully equipped computer labs.

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