Telecom giants MTN to keep communities connected amid COVID-19 concern

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By Jolly Gwari & Agencies

African Telecom giant MTN ramps up efforts to support customers and communities as COVID-19 spread across markets.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise in multiple countries, MTN’s footprint in 17 of 21 markets has registered COVID-19 infection thus taking a concern to keep people connected.

The virus has had a far-reaching impact on societies while testing the resilience and tenacity of businesses and individuals alike. Globally, governments and companies are ramping up efforts to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

“MTN’s priority is keeping people connected during this period. We need to play our part in the alleviation of the economic, social and educational impact through the support of key institutions such as Health and Education. Driven by our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of modern connected life, we have started rolling out a series of mobile connectivity, digital and mobile fintech solutions for communities across MTN’s markets,” said Rob Shuter, President, and CEO of MTN Group.

The solutions are aimed at achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and to ensure that the macro impact of COVID-19 does not hinder people’s ability to stay connected. Social distancing amongst other precautionary interventions undoubtedly increases the importance of communities staying digitally connected, particularly to news about the latest developments of COVID19. Now more than ever, MTN will play its part in using its capabilities and technologies for the good of humanity.

“We are also ramping up the roll-out of relief products under our Y’ello Hope package including the supporting governments and other stakeholders to convey vital information via mobile & digital platforms to keep people safe. Offering the zero-rating of school and university sites to enable learners to access core curriculum and facilitate distance learning and zero-rating some transactions on our Mobile Money platforms in a number of our markets. MTN operations have already implemented measures aimed at curbing the spread of the disease and easing data costs for communities, examples below:

MTN South Africa: has zero-rated a USSD line for reporting infections and for other critical information. There are also two zero-rated Ayoba COVID-19 channels that are already live and are sharing updated news and information. As part of MTN SA’s response to the Competition Commission’s Data Service Market Inquiry, the company also announced that with immediate effect, concerned family members and friends can stay in touch through a free 20MB Ayoba Data Lifeline that can be accessed via the Ayoba app.

MTN Nigeria: In the coming days, MTN Nigeria will introduce its Y’ello HOPE package – several new measures as part of a concerted effort to support customers. These include further amplifying governments’ sensitization efforts using more channels to deliver health and safety information. Suspending fees for all money transfers using their Momo Agent network. The company also plans to announce the temporary closure of some of its stores. MTN Nigeria continues to engage and is actively pursuing new ways to leverage its core expertise, technology and infrastructure to support the Nigerian Government’s efforts to keep citizens safe.

MTN Ghana: MTN MoMo customers can now send money transfers values up to GHS100 daily to MoMo wallets and other networks for free. The company has zero-rated a number of educational sites to support online learning. It has also zero-rated Ghana Health Service’s website so that users can access information about the virus-free of charge. They also use their digital channels to provide hygiene tips and update customers on the virus and the company’s response to it.

MTN Irancell has reduced data costs by 60 % for educational websites, it sends awareness messages via SMS and provides access to value added service content at discounted prices. The company also supports health care workers by providing them with free calls;

MTN Sudan, in collaboration with their Ministry of Health, has sent awareness messages to customers via SMS;

MTN Uganda has waived fees on its mobile money transfer service for every transaction below UGX30, 000 for 30 days;

MTN Rwanda has waived fees on mobile money transactions for the next 90 days;

MTN Zambia has waived fees on mobile money transfers up to K150, has doubled the mobile money transaction limits and will give an allocation of FREE SMSs to customers;

MTN Cameroon has suspended the payment of fees on money transfers between MTN MoMo accounts, for amounts of up to 20, 000 FCFA, for the next 30 days.