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MTN commits to support Ghana CARES initiative

BY: Charles Benoni Okine
Ralph Mupita, President and Chief Executive Officer of the MTN Group, speaking to the media
Ralph Mupita, President and Chief Executive Officer of the MTN Group, speaking to the media

The MTN Group has committed to support the government to successfully implement its key flagship programmes meant to transform the economy by adding on to its existing digital infrastructure across the country.

One of such key programmes, the Group said, is the Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (GhanaCares) “Obaatan Pa” programme.

The GH¢100 billion Obaatan Pa initiative is a three and half year comprehensive programme to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, return the country to a sustained path of robust growth and to create a more resilient and transformed economy.

The President and Chief Executive Officer of the MTN Group, Ralph Mupita, who made the pledge when he met with some editors from the media in Accra last Friday, said in spite of the challenges the country was facing, the company’s commitment to the people to invest in building robust digital infrastructure on which the government’s programmes would ride had not been affected.

“We will align ourselves with government programmes such as the GhanaCares programme and we will work closely to figure out whatever challenges there are and work together to solve them.

He acknowledged high inflation in the country but again gave the assurance that, that would not affect the company’s appetite to invest heavily in capital expenditure.

Profit repatriation and the Cedi

With regard to profit repatriation and its immense impact on the local currency, the MTN Group president pledged the company’s commitment to repatriate profits in a manner that would not hurt the value of the Ghana cedi against the major foreign trading currencies.

Consequently, he said the telecom giant had began discussions with the Bank of Ghana to find ways that could help reduce the impact of profit repatriation on the value of the local currency.

Mr Mupita was also hopeful that the move would have a positive effect on the strength of the Cedi which heavily plummeted anytime the big multinationals repatriated their profits.

He admitted to the challenges that the profit repatriation by big multinationals such as MTN had on the economy and further gave the assurance that the company would do so in a manner that would not hurt the cedi going forward.

The assurance comes in the wake of the continuous depreciation in the value of the cedi to the United States dollar, the most used foreign trading currency, as a result of the bulk repatriation of profits by multinationals after they had released their financial results and honoured their tax obligations to the state.

Ghana key market

Mr Mupita who has been frequenting the country many times this year explained that “One of the reasons I keep coming back often is to learn from what's happening in Ghana so I can go to other markets and try and replicate that as much as I can.

Ghana is a special business, especially within the MTN Group, so we're all familiar with the fact that we have a big business and that any dividend and capital repatriation that we make can have some impact.”

Mr Mupita explained that under normal circumstances it was not the intention of the company to move cash out of the country.

He said some of the equipment, among others, are imported from China and these could only be procured through foreign currency.

Inflation impact

Answering some questions with regard to the rate of inflation on the continent, Mr Mupita said MTN was in for the long haul no matter the challenges.

He said MTN was committed to develop digital solutions for Africa’s progress, and “We have a long term goal towards that.”

Mr Mupita said inflation impacted everything, including companies no matter their size.

“Inflation affects every single business model. If we are building a long term business we need to have a long term view of that,” he said.

He said the company was ready and prepared and could ride the storm because of its belief that it was in the country for a short period of time.

Mr Mupita said being in the known of the situation in emerging countries such as Ghana, the company needed to prepare itself as a business in the private sector working with the public sector to find ways to immunise itself against such phenomena.