Stephen Blewett (2nd from left), CEO of MTN Ghana, speaking with Ato Afful (right), MD, GCGL, and Theophilus Yartey, Editor, Graphic, during the meeting. With them is Adwoa Afriyie Wiafe (left), the Chief Corporate Services and Sustainability Officer, MTN. Picture: DOUGLAS ANANE-FRIMPONG
Stephen Blewett (2nd from left), CEO of MTN Ghana, speaking with Ato Afful (right), MD, GCGL, and Theophilus Yartey, Editor, Graphic, during the meeting. With them is Adwoa Afriyie Wiafe (left), the Chief Corporate Services and Sustainability Officer, MTN. Picture: DOUGLAS ANANE-FRIMPONG
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MTN, GCGL to deepen collaboration

Telecommunications giant, MTN, and the country’s biggest media house, the Graphic Communications Group Ltd. (GCGL), have conferred to deepen their relationship and take their businesses to the next level.

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Areas of focus include the digital space and electronic payments, around which the technical teams of the two companies would work to optimise opportunities for both companies.

For instance, MTN’s mobile money space will support GCGL’s payment channels for various services, including its mobile app, the Graphic NewsPlus, and also enable customers to pay for advertisements using the same channel.

The companies, already collaborators at the corporate and staff levels, reaffirmed their commitment when the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MTN, Stephen Blewett, led a delegation to pay a courtesy call on GCGL.

The Managing Director of GCGL, Ato Afful, together with the Editor, Graphic, Theophilus Yartey, and other officers of the company, received the MTN delegation. The MTN team included the Chief Corporate Services and Sustainability Officer, Adwoa Afriyie Wiafe; the Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Georgina Asare Fiagbenu; the Communications Manager, Efua Falconer; the Media Relations Advisor, Afua Asafo-Adjei; Betty Evans Nkumall of the Corporate Communications Unit, and the acting Personal Assistant to the CEO, Asa Awuku.

Authenticity

Mr Blewett, who has been in the country for two months, said the visit was to cement the cordial relationship that had existed between his outfit and GCGL, saying it was his first media engagement.

He said a free and impartial media was important for democracy because it reflected the society. The CEO said although the media had experienced a digital transformation, newspapers were still essential to serve readers.

Mr Blewett has been in West Africa for nine years, with roles such as the CEO of MTN Benin and Cameroun, and Vice-President for West and Central Africa before coming to Ghana.

“I’ve been in Ghana for two months now and the focus for me is building on what my predecessor (Selorm) has done. This is not the case of reinventing the company; it’s about taking it to the next level,” the South African business executive stated.

On Graphic Group’s Digital First initiative, Mr Blewett, an author with three books to his credit, said it was the way to go. He explained that given that digital content came with fake news and manipulation, the Graphic Group, with 74-year track record, was relevant and authentic to play a lead role in ensuring credibility in the space.

“You have something else; you have relevance, credibility and authenticity because the biggest challenge in digital is manipulation, fake news, etc., and that’s where you have strength. Therefore, I agree with you that digital is complementary to print,” Mr Blewett stated.

He said MTN Ghana led the way in digital within the MTN Group, with the Ghana business having a chief digital officer whose team could work with the Graphic team to build on its digital agenda.

Digital media

Mr Afful, for his part, called for support for each other, and appealed to Mr Blewett to put his understanding of the media terrain at the disposal of GCGL “to even help us to achieve more”.

He said the media industry in the country was going through its own evolution, with some challenging edges, as it had not been prepared for the fluid transformation.

For example, Mr Afful said, the media was now struggling to bring themselves into the “digital space where mobile network operators are already native” and that was one of the big pushes the GCGL was driving.

The digital agenda had found expression in products such as the Graphic NewsPlus, which had the digital versions of the group’s six brands, Graphic Online and the digitalisation of the company’s 74 years of archival materials, the MD of GCGL said.

“From your insight as a technology partner, I believe you will be giving us some better insights as a technology partner and how to make those channels better,” Mr Afful indicated, saying digital media was the now, the future and the way to go.

“This does not negate the fact that the print also has its place, as no medium has replaced the other, only how it is used has varied over time,” Mr Afful pointed out, saying the Daily Graphic and other brands would continue to be the go-to newspaper for all through maintaining its relevance and creating the value for its stakeholders.

The MD of GCGL also spoke about the thought leadership programmes of the GCGL, including the Graphic National Development Series, which put the spotlight on issues to create national discourse every quarter.

Editor

“We are very keen on working with MTN to cement our relationship into the future to ensure that we achieve our mutual objectives and make Ghana the overall winner,” the Editor, Graphic said.

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Mr Yartey said the Graphic team would be looking forward to working with MTN to explore opportunities to optimise its operations through collaboration and commitment.

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