Assessing the Contribution of MTN to Ghana’s Economy, 25 Years On

From l-r, MTN Ghana Board Chairman, Dr Ishmael Yamson; MTN Ghana CEO, Selorm Adadevoh; President Akufo-Addo; and Minister of Communications Digitalisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekufu at the company’s 25th anniversary launch

Accra, Ghana//-The mobile sector in Ghana has enabled millions of Ghanaians to access the benefits of mobile communications. Among the four Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) operating in the country, MTN Ghana has connected several millions of Ghanaians to telecoms services than the rest.

According to the latest mobile subscription data released by the National Communications Authority (NCA), of the country’s 133.14% total telephony penetration rate for the month of March 2021, MTN’s voice subscriptions for the period rose to more than 23.4 million from February 2021’s figure of 23.2 million.

This shows that MTN Ghana which is celebrating its 25th anniversary as of March 2021 is controlling the country’s telecoms market with 56.48% market share.

Similarly, with an estimated population of 31.1 million, the total subscriptions of mobile data in the country at the end of March 2021 stood at over 22.9 million, representing a data penetration rate of 73.73%.

MTN ended the month of March with more than 15. 6 million mobile data subscriptions, making it the largest market share controller of 68.49%.

On the mobile money (MoMo) front, MTN Ghana’s subsidiary, MobileMoney Limited which is headed by Eli Hini, is controlling 75% of the country’s MoMo market.

ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE OF MTN TO GHANA

Since its inception in 1996, MTN Ghana has had a significant impact on the Ghanaian economy through contribution to Ghana’s long-run economic and fiscal stability and gross domestic product, (GDP), employment creation, promotion of digital and financial inclusion, promotion investment and innovation in the wider economy, social investments, among others.

The largest telecoms company also continues to impact on almost all the sectors of the Ghanaian economy including telecoms, health, education, banking and finance, agriculture, science and technology, security services, sports, trade and investment.

As the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh stated the launch of the company’s 25th anniversary activities graced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo: “MTN prides itself in its high ethical standards upon which our operations are run.

Commitment to tax obligations

We take our statutory obligations seriously and have ensured our commitment to our tax obligations which has been recognized several years running where MTN has been adjudged “the number 1 taxpayer” and “the largest taxpayer in the country” by both the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)”.

For instance, in 2020 alone, MTN Ghana’s total payments in tax to the government amounted to GH₵ 2.6 billion, representing 6% of the total national tax revenue.

Additionally, MTN Ghana is said to be the highest payer of the National Fiscal Stabilisation Levy (NFSL) as data from the company revealed.

Board Chairman of Scancom PLC (MTN Ghana), Dr Ishmael Yamson,

The telecoms operator just last year paid a huge amount of GH₵ 101 million, representing 21% of overall NFSL received in that year.

Major collector of Communication Service Tax

MTN Ghana through its MTN network also collected 70% of overall Communication Service Tax (CST) which is GH₵ 389 million for the government last year.

Besides, “we recognize that our role in Ghana’s economic growth and future goes beyond our statutory obligations. We have a role to play in deepening the digital ecosystem and ensuring connectivity for all including rural communities, as part of supporting the Government’s ambition for a digital Ghana.

To do all of this, we have had to place a marker on “first” and I am proud to say we have been the first at most, if not all, technological innovations in Ghana since our launch starting from GSM to more recently, a landmark IPO which was the first the world over to democratize the purchase of shares through mobile money to 4G+ technology and digital”, Mr Adadevoh said.

Provision of key telecoms services

Additionally, MTN Ghana which provides a wide range of mobile and broadband services in the country is promoting digital inclusion, making it possible for millions of Ghanaians to benefit from the exchange of ideas and information.

It also provides an avenue for reduced communication costs and improved access to education, healthcare, financial services, and others which are critical for the socio-economic development of Ghana.

It is an indisputable fact that mobile services increase productivity by improving the availability of information and reducing transaction costs, and enable businesses and markets to operate more effectively and efficiently.

Supporting investment and innovation

Also, these services support investment and innovation in the economy.  For instance, the provision of network equipment and the creation of business services and applications that leads to greater economic growth.

In MTN’s bid to continue to invest to expand the network, an amount of GH¢995 million (US$149 million) has been committed for the 2021 modernization process.

While about $478 million has been invested in the network since 2019, no wonder, MTN Ghana was declared the best network for both Voice and Data in 2019 by Ookla, a global network speed testing company.

Indeed, since day one, Scancom Ltd (MTN Ghana) which was incorporated in 1994 as a private limited liability company but began operations in Ghana in 1996 has never put off its pedal on network investments.

“MTN has always seen Ghana as a market to invest in because of the confidence we have in the governance and political stability, policy predictability and consistent economic growth over the years and in recent times.

CEO of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh

This appetite has driven our investment decisions to invest over six billion US dollars in infrastructure since inception”, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh said at the launch of the company’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

Social investments

It is MTN Ghana’s fervent belief that businesses exist today for reasons beyond financial returns. This is what has fueled its consistent commitment to invest in education, health and economic empowerment through the MTN Foundation with over 187 projects since inception.

The Foundation which was set up in 2007 as a single purpose vehicle to drive all MTN Ghana’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in the country currently has three focus areas- Health, Education and Economic Empowerment.

It is set up as a separate legal entity with its own independent Board of Directors and Patrons who oversee its operations.

The Foundation’s commitment is centred on the socio-economic development of the country through the unveiling of appropriate and sustainable social interventions in communities across the country.

The Foundation which is funded by a percentage of profit after tax (PAT) from MTN Ghana hopes that its initiatives will strengthen and deepen the collective efforts of key stakeholders who are working towards a healthy nation.

Since its establishment, the Foundation has invested $13.5 million in 157 projects in its focus areas which are estimated to have impacted over four million people across the country, according to senior officials of the Foundation.

Out of the total number of projects, the Foundation has invested in 87 education projects and they include ultra-modern technology laboratory for the Ghana Institute of Public Administration (GIMPA), a six-unit classroom block for Nhyiaeso Basic School, a three-unit classroom block, a 600-bed Girls’ Dormitory and an adjoining house mistress bungalow for Tamale Senior High School (SHS) and ICT Centre for Mangoaso R.C Basic School, among others.

From (l-r); Corporate Services Executive of MTN Ghana, Samuel Koranteng; Prof Manu; and Prof Tuuli, unveiling the plaque

The GIMPA’s state-of-the-art ICT laboratory was handed over to the school after the Foundation had invested an amount of Ghc731, 784 into it.

The amount covers the cost of providing telecommunications and electronics laboratory building, electronic equipment, furniture /cabinet for the main lab and an ICT Cable infrastructure.

The facility has paved the way for GIMPA to run an MSc programme in Telecommunications Engineering, while plans are underway to also make it possible for the Institution to successfully run programmes in ICT, Computer Science, and Management Information Systems.

These courses are critical to ensure that the country has the right expertise needed to drive and support the digitalization agenda of the country.

The facility, which is the biggest investment that MTN Ghana Foundation has made in ICT lab for a single institution in the country, can also spur innovation in and out of the school.

The MTN Foundation has also built ICT Centres for the Takoradi Technical Institute, Koforidua Technical University, Bonsu Agric University and the Assistive Technology Unit at the University of Ghana.

Through these and other investments made in universities and other higher learning institutions across the country, digital inclusion and innovation are being sustained.

Also, as far back as 2002, Scancom Plc, the parent company of MTN Ghana had already set up the Spacefon Scholarship Scheme which has now become the MTN BRIGHT Scholarship program.

This scholarship scheme has provided assistance to thousands of needy and brilliant students all over the country since the days of Spacefon and its commitment continues in this respect.

The Foundation has executed 52 health projects, as well as numerous smaller initiatives in various communities to brighten lives in all 16 regions of Ghana, since its establishment.

Vice President of MTN SEAGHA Mr. Ebenezer Asante presenting scholarships to beneficiaries of MTN Teacher Improvement Award in 2015

Health is one of three focus areas of the Foundation, and its project selection criteria according to senior officials of the Foundation, is aligned to the achievement of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), should reflect the real needs of the community, and sustainability.

Besides the provision of these health facilities, health equipment, blood donations, distribution of mosquito nets and payment of surgeries of the vulnerables, the Foundation also provided potable water for communities by funding the drilling of boreholes, thereby helping to prevent water-borne diseases.

Creation of employments

Furthermore, MTN Ghana supported micro enterprises, executed the business incubator project, supported surgeries for life-threatening ailments and embarked on the Y’ello Care- employee volunteer programme, among others.

Through its ecosystem of partnerships and suppliers, the company has also generated thousands of jobs for the youth while thousands of Ghanaians are being employed by MTN Ghana and its MobileMoney Limited subsidiary in the West African country.

Deepening Financial Inclusion

The facilitation of money transfers and payment of utilities between individuals and across sectors has become enormous. MobileMoney Limited has enabled investment in Treasury Bills possible withTBILL4ALL product in partnership with Ecobank.

On MoMo today, customers are not just sending and receiving money or paying bills, MoMo is now used for Saving, Investing, Payments, Shopping, Insurance and Loan acquisition.

The company has also partnered with several organizations to rollout key social empowerment projects over the decade including helping digitize the Agriculture Value Chain through mAgric, POS in partnership with several banks and scaling up female participation within the MoMo merchant space.

Chief Executive Officer of MobileMoney Limited, Eli Hini

Indeed, MobileMoney Limited continues to spearhead innovations and initiatives that facilitate the growth of the mobile financial services sector which provides customers with fast, simple, convenient, secure and affordable ways of transferring money, making payments and doing other transactions using just a mobile phone.

According to the World Bank Global Financial Inclusion Index released in April 2018, Ghana’s financial inclusion has increased from 41 percent in 2014 to 58 percent in 2017 mainly on account of adoption of digital channels such as mobile money for service delivery.

 The revolution of mobile money transactions in the Ghanaian economy has instigated a paradigm shift to a new kind of retail banking system where large segments of the unbanked populace are being absorbed into the financial services sector.

The success of mobile money transactions in advancing financial inclusion cannot be overemphasized; it has been a blessing to businesses, financial technology (fintech) firms, among others.

Shining on creative arts

Mr Adadevoh noted at the company’s 25th anniversary celebrations that;  “a part of being a Ghanaian company is to live the culture we so believe in. Our culture is founded on dance and music from ceremonial dances such as Adowa, Bambaya, Agbadza and Kpalongo (to name a few).

For this reason, MTN has consistently supported various programs in Music, Sports, Entertainment and many more.

Our much-acclaimed “Stars of the Future” and “Hitmakers” platforms have unearthed stars like Efya, Jane, Kwame Eugene, Kidi and several others”.

In October 2020, the telecoms giant took a bold step towards the digitization of the country’s folklores and cultural heritage to preserve and showcase them using technology locally and internationally.

To this end, the telecoms company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Folklore Board which serves as the framework to guide the collaboration and operations.

It commissioned the development of a Mobile Application, known as the Heritage App to showcase information on Ghana and its cultural Heritage.

As a leader in the telecoms space in Ghana, it thought of going beyond the celebration of festivals as a means to help preserve the country’s culture.

By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, African Eye Report