MTN's Ralph Mupita: Protecting lives and livelihoods is a delicate balancing act

The CFO believes this will require human ingenuity, social compacts and solidarity resources.

On Wednesday, 15 April, the MTN Group announced that it will be launching a R250 million relief package in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

MTN Group CFO and 2019 CFO of the Year Ralph Mupita says that the Covid-19 pandemic is a humanitarian tragedy. 

“In many of the markets we operate in, the infection rates are still low and the extent of the impact still has to fully play out,” he adds. “As various countries across our markets are putting in place lockdown and partial lockdown initiatives to limit the impact of the pandemic, there is an important balancing act required around protecting lives and protecting livelihoods.” 

Ralph believes this balancing act will require human ingenuity, social compacts, solidarity and financial resources to be successful. “To this end, MTN Group is looking to play its part and support the governments in our markets to fight Covid-19.” 

In a statement, the group said that it has customised its response to recognise its responsibility to contribute both in South Africa as well as in other markets facing enormous challenges in managing the pandemic. 

The relief package is made up of five intervention initiatives: employees, customers, vulnerable groups, contributions to the South African government’s Solidarity Fund, and participating in industry interventions. 

Believing that charity “begins at home”, the telecommunications group plans to raise R40 million for the MTN Global Staff Emergency Fund for employees in need. 

The funds will be raised by contributions from the group’s directors, managers and general staff. Following other corporate giants, Ralph, along with the company’s chairman, group CEO and a number of its directors, has pledged 30 percent of his board fees and salary for the next three months. 

“We are additionally investing in our networks to ensure that nation-states and citizens can continue to rely on the critical infrastructure and essential services we provide across the 21 markets we operate in,” Ralph says. 

According to the statement, over R150 million will be invested in the Y’ello Hope Package for customers.

MTN is mobilising the work of its MTN Foundations across the markets it operates in to reach people who are most vulnerable. The foundations will contribute towards tackling health emergencies to minimise the spread of the virus, including disease commodity packages and ICT services needed for Health Ministries and health professionals. The group will also enable students to continue learning by accessing vital school and university content with a contribution of at least R50 million. 

Finally, the group will contribute R10 million to the South African government’s Solidarity Fund, while leveraging its knowledge and infrastructure to participate in the forums that have been set up to assist people in need.