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MTN’s Motsa calls for economic inclusion, access to tech

Read time 3min 20sec
MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa.
MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa.

MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa says without broad levels of sustained and consistent inclusion and access to technology, the country will not reach its potential.

He notes MTN stands in strong support of government’s commitment to ensure South Africans are able to benefit from transformation across business, employment and skills development.

Motsa says MTN’s procurement spend with black-owned vendors has spiked in recent years. In 2016, MTN spent R3.5 billion, and by 2019, that had increased to R7.1 billion.

Motsa’s call for economic inclusion comes as MTN celebrates its level one broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) contributor status.

MTN has become the second telco to attain the highest empowerment rating, following Vodacom’s similar announcement last week.

“MTN believes in the future of SA. To this end, our 4G coverage has reached 96% of our population, ensuring we do not leave any township or village behind,” Motsa notes.

He says MTN is “extremely proud to have, therefore, reached level one status ahead of target and look forward to doing even more to drive change and improve lives for all South Africans.”

The BBBEE ratings are intended to stimulate the process of participation of previously disadvantaged groups in the economy to lead to increased economic growth. The higher the score, the higher the chances of a company being able to take advantage of various opportunities, including favourable tax gains.

Motsa says MTN’s achievement comes at a time when SA is ramping up efforts to recover the economy and speed up the inclusion of black-owned businesses in these efforts.

“MTN stands in strong support of government’s commitment to ensure South Africans are able to benefit from transformation across business, employment and skills development.

“MTN was born in democracy and we believe that transformation is in our DNA. We will continue to demonstrate that through truly inclusive economic growth. As the country faces up to the socio-economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, MTN will leverage its firm foundation to ensure all South Africans can enjoy the benefits of the digital world.”

Meeting the criteria

A senior industry executive familiar with empowerment codes tells ITWeb that Vodacom and MTN’s level one BBBEE status is a reflection of their capacity to be compliant across the board of the empowerment pillars.

“They do not set the rules – the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and the sector council do that. Having obeyed the rules and achieved or exceeded the targets, the enterprises are able to do business at the highest level. If the rules are not achieving the country's goals for transformation, then government and other stakeholders must sit down and improve the rules,” he says.

South African telcos have recently been accused by lobby groups of “manipulating the system” in attaining level one BBBEE contributor status.

The Progressive Blacks in ICT has been the most vocal, saying: “Manipulating the system and finding clever ways to hack your way to the top is not transformation. This is the message we are sending to all those big companies that have done so.”

However, the industry executive, who prefers anonymity, says: “If one group of stakeholders feel they are not getting a big enough slice of the pie, they can lobby government, lobby the bigger enterprises and up their own game to change that.

“To make unfounded allegations against the process and the council is counter-productive and just demeans the value of the stakeholder group (which has direct representation on the council, incidentally). If they have evidence of malfeasance, they should take that to the BBBEE Commission for investigation.”

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