MTN CEO: I had a tough battle with Covid-19

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MTN Ghana CEO, Selorm Adadevoh has said that he had a severe personal experience with COVID-19 that lasted for months but he has recovered. 

“For me personally I went through a battle with Covid for several months which was quite tough – so I have had a different experience with Covid on a personal side,” he said at the virtual forum organized by UBA Bank under the theme “Re-strategizing business to remain competitive post-Covid”.

Selorm Adadevoh noted that Covid has given everyone a lot of food for thought both on the personal and business sides, adding that on the business side, it has been a big challenge for all in terms of health, safety, jobs, productivity and revenue.

“At MTN, Covid hit when were about to roll out our 2020 business strategy and so we had to roll back and re-strategize – our supply chain was affected because we now have to adopt new ways to ensure safety for our staff – our priorities completed changed,” he said.

According to him, MTN made it a priority to provide safety and health support for staff while ensuring productivity was not compromised so that its contribution to the economy would also be sustained.

The MTN CEO however stated that Covid affected their productivity, in that some sectors of the business were completely shutdown, while others had a lifeline that boosted sustainability.

“The focus for us, became to survive 2020 and push forward into 2021 expecting to see the back of Covid and the company has indeed crossed over into 2021 successfully with a hope for a better year,” he said.

Covid Initiatives 

While Selorm Adadevoh was away battling Covid-19, Sam Addo acted in his stead as CEO of MTN Ghana and led some of the Covid-19 related initiatives of the company.

In the midst of Covid-19, MTN Ghana provided the government with the biggest single support from a corporate organization in a package worth GHS5 million. That donation formed part of MTN Group’s US$15 million package set aside to support countries where it operates to fight Covid-19.

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As the world crossed over into Covid vaccines, MTN again launched the Yello Hope initiative and became the first corporate organization to donate up to 165,000 doses AstraZeneca vaccines to the Ghana government.

To date, they have delivered 356,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to support the Ghana Government’s efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

That was part of the commitment made by MTN Group to provide US$25 million to support the African Union’s COVID-19 vaccination programme and help secure up to seven million doses of the vaccine for health workers across the continent.

Health and Safety

Selorm Adadevoh, who led MTN staff to implement the Group’s face mask wearing campaign in Ghana, noted that MTN recognizes the importance of its people in the face of Covid, and so one of their key strategies was to secure the jobs of their staff, adding that MTN also set a comprehensive program in place to support the health of its staff.

“We acknowledged that the impact of Covid was hardest on health and jobs and so our primary pre-occupation was how do you ensure your people have their jobs and how do you ensure a healthy and safe working environment for your staff – that was the first pillar,” he said.

Again, he noted that due to the impact of Covid on productivity, MTN adopted a the portfolio strategy for revenue diversification, so that when one side is falling, other aspects of the portfolio will be able to generate enough revenue to sustain the entire portfolio.

Selorm Adadevoh used the opportunity to advise businesses to adopt the portfolio approach to their productivity to ensure revenue sustainability.

He also noted that Covid has created a working from home culture, where staff seem to be putting in even more man hours to keep the company going, but as things begin to normalize, corporates need to strategize to take that burden off workers so that it will not lead to another health challenge.

Digital Operator/Ambition 2025

Speaking of normalization, MTN Ghana has is now working towards becoming a complete digital operator by 2023, to ensure that more of its operations, including work flow and offering to customers are within the digital space.

At the group level, MTN has launched a new strategy dubbed Ambition 2025, aimed at making MTN a platform player, where it allows various companies to use its digital platform to create solutions and offer them to customers completely outside of MTN.

MTN Ghana alone has earmarked some US$149 million for this project, to expand its digital platform and ready itself to be a platform player.

Selorm Adadevoh therefore urge businesses in Africa, particularly SMEs to go largely digital because there is where consumers are going on, and that is where investors would be focusing to their money.

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