South Africa is confronting the pressing realities of climate change head-on, contending with a warming trend surpassing the global average by more than double, according to South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the United Nations’ Paris Climate Agreement. Acknowledging the urgency of the situation,

Emphasising the gravity of the situation, MTN South Africa CEO Charles Molapisi says: “South Africa stands at the forefront of climate change impact, and it is up to us to respond proactively. The effects of climate change will take the harshest toll on our most vulnerable communities, and as an organisation that serves more than 36,5-million customers, we recognise the profound importance of doing that it takes to enable our transition to a climate-resilient, low-carbon country and society. ”

MTN SA takes its cue from the South African government’s 2017 National Climate Change and Adaptation Strategy; a blueprint aimed at bolstering the nation’s resilience against the adverse effects of climate change.

“Operations at the scale of MTN South Africa’s come with a significant environmental footprint and an even greater responsibility to ensure that we, as SA’s best network, do what is best for the environmental,” says Molapisi.

The company’s approach to addressing emissions, encompassing both direct and supply chain-related factors. While 81% of MTN South Africa’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2022 were associated with Scope 3 emissions, caused by an organisation’s activities, but occur outside of the organisation’s direct control, usually across its value chain, such as purchased goods and services.

The company is proactively tackling this challenge and is working with key suppliers to get suppliers to pledge their support to set their own emission reduction targets in line with the science-based targets methodology, showcasing MTN’s efforts to take responsibility not only for its direct emissions but also for those intricately linked to its operations through its supply chains.

A total of 17% of MTN SA’s emissions were classified as Scope 2, arising from indirect sources like electricity consumption which the team is working hard to alleviate via the deployment of solar solutions.

Molapisi underscores the enormity of the energy crisis in South Africa as a hindrance, saying, “In 2022 alone, we had to deploy over 2 000 backup generators, consuming more than 400 000 litres of fuel monthly.”

To address this crisis, MTN invested billions of rands in enhancing tower infrastructure – integrating backup batteries and generators to ensure uninterrupted power supply. The company has earmarked an additional R1,5-billion in this financial year (2023) to reinforce these initiatives.

“Addressing the energy crisis is a necessity to ensure our customers can rely and depend on our network as they go about their everyday lives in an ever more increasingly digitised and connected world. The downside, however, is that this has hindered our emissions reduction efforts,” explains Molapisi.

To offset this negative impact, Molapisi says MTN has been actively investing in renewable energy projects. In 2022, the company announced a comprehensive four-phase green energy programme, encompassing solar installations at various facilities, purchasing renewable energy from external sources, and implementing Combined Cooling Heat and Power technology. Notably, MTN has also established 30 off-grid renewable energy facilities that provide 57 kilowatts of clean energy to remote areas.

Molapisi concludes: “MTN’s mission is clear: we are committed to transitioning to sustainable energy sources, minimising emissions, enhancing power reliability, and contributing to climate solutions. We are unwavering in our dedication to a more sustainable future for all. In a time of challenge, MTN South Africa sees opportunity. And our strategies underscore our commitment to environmental stewardship and alignment with the nation’s aspiration for a greener, lower-carbon economy.”