MTN Uganda, the country’s biggest techco (technology-led firm), has initiated a national forest restoration initiative to symbolize the company’s strengthening roots in Uganda, which it has called home since 1998.
The project, dubbed “Uganda is Home,” is in preparation for MTN Uganda to offer 20% of its shares on the Uganda Stock Exchange, giving Ugandans the option to own a piece of the company.
The MTN reforestation project, which began today in Kyewaga Central Forest Reserve in Entebbe and is being carried out in collaboration with the National Forestry Authority, will see the company restore 220 hectares of forest cover in five Central Forest Reserves (CFRs) around the country.
Barifa CFR is located in Arua, Kagombe CFR is located in Kibaale, Jubiya CFR is located in Masaka, and Ogera Hills CFR is located in Serere district. During the month-long reforestation initiative, 220 hectares of forest cover will be restored across Uganda, with each 10 hectare representing one year of MTN’s presence in Uganda thus far.
MTN’s forest restoration project is only one of several measures the firm has undertaken over the years to enhance its ties with the country in which it is based. It is also a reaffirmation of MTN’s commitment to contribute to the development of its home country, Uganda, as envisioned by MTN’s business model, which states that businesses can only succeed if the communities in which they operate thrive.
To this end, through its corporate social responsibility arm, the MTN Foundation, MTN has made several Corporate Social Investments in areas such as health, education, sports, music, and the arts, among others, as a way of supporting communities to thrive in order to create a win-win situation for both the business and the citizens of Uganda.
The rehabilitation and re-equipment of over 30 health center IIIs across the country is a key component of MTN’s corporate social initiatives, which help the government’s efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal #3, which calls for universal health and well-being. Furthermore, for the past 17 years, the MTN Kampala Marathon has raised monies that have been invested in health and wellness projects in various communities around the country.
MTN has also partnered with the PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) group to build classroom blocks in ten secondary schools in hard-to-reach communities to promote affordable secondary school education. This project alone provided classroom space for about 2000 students.
Most recently, MTN has aided the government in combating the deadly corona virus and assisting communities in coping with the pandemic’s devastating impacts. MTN has invested over 2 billion shillings in Uganda’s fight against the Corona Virus.
MTN donated three brand new pickup trucks to the National Covid Task Force, partnered with the Uganda Red Cross Society to monitor SOPs in high traffic areas such as national borders and markets, and partnered with the National Water and Sewerage Cooperation to provide clean, safe water to people in water hardened areas to promote hand-washing as a preventive measure against the spread of the virus.
Interventions such as the elimination of MoMo transaction fees, support for the Ministry of Health’s call-center infrastructure, and zero-rating e-learning sites to allow students to continue their studies while schools were closed, among others, were added to these programs.
All of the following actions, including the forestry project, indicate MTN’s long-term commitment to Uganda as a responsible corporate citizen.
Wim Vanhelleputte, MTN Uganda’s Chief Executive Officer, spoke at the forest restoration launch today in Entebbe’s Kyewaga Central Forest Reserve, where MTN restored the first 20 hectares of forest cover. He said that MTN Uganda has established its roots in Uganda over the years, and that the reforestation project was purely a symbolism of the company deepening its roots in a country that has become increasingly important to the company.
“Part of the arrangement when the Ugandan government granted us our second operating license in 2020 was that MTN will float on the Uganda Securities Exchange by 2022. This is a really positive step for MTN because listing on the Uganda Securities Exchange means Ugandans will now be able to own a piece of the company.
Uganda has been and continues to be a fantastic home for MTN, he added. As a result, MTN has collaborated closely with the government to support its efforts in areas such as health, education, youth training, and ICT, among others.
The Executive Director of the National Forestry Authority, Tom Obong Okello, praised MTN for assisting the government in restoring forest coverage throughout the country.
“This is one of the single largest investments in the sector by any business organization to date, and we are confident that it will have a huge positive impact on local communities and the entire country,” Okello said.
MTN Uganda recently reached a milestone of 15 million subscribers, cementing its position as the country’s top telecom provider.
MTN is committed to spending more in order to better serve its ever-growing customer base and to supporting the government’s efforts to improve Uganda’s socio-economic growth.