MTN SA Foundation’s strategic support initiatives bring hope, drive digital change during a tough 2020

MTN SA Foundation’s strategic support initiatives bring hope, drive digital change during a tough 2020

The MTN SA Foundation’s numerous support initiatives during 2020 helped give South Africa and its communities hope during an extremely daunting year. Many of these initiatives opened the door to new digital opportunities for more people, despite the immense challenges of a year in which COVID-19 wreaked widespread havoc, leaving those in rural communities hardest hit.

Importantly, the MTN SA Foundation donated personal protective equipment (PPE) and made contributions to food security initiatives targeting the most vulnerable members of society. Food parcels were distributed to the hardest hit communities in Gauteng, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal, in partnership with the Department of Social Development in each of the three provinces to the value of R3.4 million reaching approximately 27 500 beneficiaries. At a national level, MTN distributed 2 750 food parcels to the value of R1.7 million to worst-affected communities, reaching approximately 13 750 beneficiaries.

Making a tangible difference to positively change lives remained key throughout the year and during the final quarter of 2020, when the learners had returned to school, the MTN SA Foundation ramped up its campaign to increase access to e-Learning by handing over multimedia centres at five no-fee-paying schools, and two in higher learning and training institutions. This built on the initiatives earlier in the year to zero-rate over 1 000 educational and public benefit websites to ensure those most in need had access to digitised curriculum during lockdown. The contribution of ICT technical equipment and support continues to build on existing partnerships with government countrywide.

Additionally, the MTN SA Foundation supported health professional training institutions by providing equipment and skills to both health-professional trainees and lecturers.

“For many, 2020 has been truly disastrous, and we knew we needed to step-up efforts to harness our resources to help those most in need as the crisis worsened, while giving them the tools needed to succeed and flourish in life. Our belief is that education through ICT is one of the most powerful ways to build skills to world-class standards, and this served as the foundation of many of our initiatives during the year,” says Kusile Mtunzi-Hairwadzi, General Manager of the MTN SA Foundation.

A highlight for the Foundation was the partnership with the Siyavula Foundation, which saw the Siyavula e-learning platform being zero-rated for all MTN customers. In addition to this, the MTN SA Foundation provided Siyavula with R3 million worth of funding to assist in giving all South African learners in Grade 10, 11 and 12 full access to the mathematics, CAT, IT and Physical Sciences learning materials, including practice sheets and exam preparation content. This partnership also provided learners with access to Siyavula’s adaptive mathematics learning software available on the same zero-rated website and app.

With education in health services also being a key theme this year, the University of Zululand, for instance, was the proud recipient of two leading-edge multimedia centres from the MTN SA Foundation aimed specifically at upskilling urgent areas of the local economy.

“To close the year off, we also felt it was important to add our weight to the fight against gender-based violence (GBV) with the handover a 20-seater multimedia centre at Bambisandla Sam, in Carletonville, a safe-haven for women and children impacted by GBV. This was an initiative carried out in partnership with the Department of Social Development. We remain firm in our belief that the power of collaboration can make a real difference, and we will build on this and other initiatives into the future as we continue to help the most vulnerable,” says Mtunzi-Hairwadzi.

Mtunzi-Hairwadzi says she was most pleased by the collaboration across the provinces by the MTN in-country teams, working in collaboration with government partners.

“This included our annual staff volunteerism programme during the months of June and July. Food parcel rollouts, technical support funds were contributed towards select community-support initiatives. I am extremely thankful for the collective effort shown by our wider MTN team and thank them for their hard work, dedication and undying commitment to help.”

Innovation was a key theme underpinning many initiatives and the MTN SA Foundation donated mobile Wi-Fi routers and over 127 data sim cards with data preloaded for six months to 20 non-profit organisations and community centres.

MTN’s COVID-19 specific health interventions were designed to complement government’s efforts at both provincial and national level. For instance, MTN contributed 18 pre-installed desktop computers worth R276 060, subsidised Wi-Fi to the value of R454 456 at the Gauteng Department of Health’s field hospital for COVID-19 patients in Nasrec.

In responding to a call by the office of the Premier of Gauteng for essential ICT equipment, MTN also provided 500 tablets worth R1,059 million with 3GB worth of data for three months. Over and above this, 350 tablets valued at R0.74 million were distributed to other provinces. The devices were distributed to community healthcare workers and used to support community screening and testing programmes.

The business further contributed over 156, 800 face masks and 39 600 hand sanitisers to the value of R4.5 million. These were distributed to the nine provincial healthcare departments in the country for use by frontline healthcare workers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis which has magnified the inequalities and injustices in our world. As a business that cares about the communities in which we operate, MTN SA’s response to the pandemic centered on cross-sectoral interventions at all levels of society. This work continues as we drive change that matters into 2021, underpinned by the belief that everyone deserves the benefits of the modern, connected life,” concludes Mtunzi-Hairwadzi.

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