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MTN DEEPENS ITS ROOTS IN UGANDA IN LATEST CAMPAIGN TO RESTORE 220 HECTARES OF FOREST COVER

By Joel Mugabi

Leading telecom MTN Uganda has launched a nationwide forest restoration project to symbolize the deepening of its roots in Uganda, a country that has been home to the company since 1998.

Themed ‘Uganda is Home,’ this initiative is in preparation of MTN Uganda listing 20 per cent of its shares on the Uganda Stock Exchange, an opportunity for Ugandans to own a part of the company.

Launched today at Kyewaga Central Forest Reserve in Entebbe, the MTN reforestation project, which is being undertaken in partnership with the National Forestry Authority (NFA), will see the company restore 220 hectares of forest cover in five Central Forest Reserves (CFRs) across the country.

These include: Barifa CFR in Arua, Kagombe CFR in Kibaale, Jubiya CFR in Masaka and Ogera Hills CFR in Serere district. The month-long reforestation project will see 220 hectares of forest cover restored across the country, with every 10 hectares symbolizing one year of MTN’s existence in Uganda so far.

(l-R) MTN Uganda CEO Wim Vanhelleputte, MTN general manager Corporate services Enid Edroma, MTN chief marketing officer Somdev Sen.

The MTN forest restoration project is one of the many initiatives that the country’s leading technology-led company (techco) has undertaken over the years to strengthen its relationship with a country that it calls home. It is also a recommitment by the company to play its part in the development of its home, Uganda, as envisaged by MTN’s business model that acknowledges that businesses can only thrive when the communities within which they operate are thriving.

To this effect, MTN has over the years made several Corporate Social Investments in areas of health, education, sports, music and arts among others as a way of supporting communities to thrive in order to create a win-win situation for both the business and citizens of Uganda through its Corporate Social Responsibility arm, the MTN Foundation.

Key among MTN’s corporate social investments is the refurbishment and re-equipment of over 30 health center IIIs across the country to support the government’s strides towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal Number III which aims at good health and well-being for all.

Furthermore, through the MTN Kampala Marathon, the company has raised funds that have been sunk into health and wellness projects in various communities across the country for the last 17 years.

MTN Uganda CEO Wim Vanhelleputte replanting a tree in Kyewaga forest.

MTN has also worked with the PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) organization to construct classroom blocks in 10 secondary schools located in hard-to-reach areas in order to champion access to affordable secondary school education. This project alone created space for close to 2,000 learners in the schools.

Most recently, MTN has been instrumental in complementing the government’s efforts towards combatting the spread of the deadly coronavirus as well as supporting communities cope with the harsh effects of the pandemic. MTN has so far injected over Shs2bn in the fight against Coronavirus in Uganda.

MTN Uganda CEO Wim Vanhelleputte watering a mahogany tree replanted in Kyewaga forest.

MTN donated three brand new pickups to the National Covid19 Task Force; partnered with National Water and Sewerage Cooperation to provide clean safe water to the people in areas where people find it difficult to access safe water to promote handwashing as a preventive measure towards the spread of the virus; partnered with the Uganda Red Cross Society to monitor SOPs in high traffic areas such as the national borders and markets, among others.

These initiatives were further complemented by interventions such as the suspension of MoMo transaction fees, supporting the Ministry of Health with its call center infrastructure as well as zero-rating e-learning sites to enable students carry on with their studies as schools were closed, among others. 

Like the reforestation project, all the above activities demonstrate MTN’s long-term commitment as a responsible corporate citizen in Uganda over the years.

Speaking at the forest restoration launch today at the Kyewaga Central Forest Reserve in Entebbe, where MTN restored the first 20 hectares of forest cover, Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Chief Executive Officer, said that MTN Uganda has over the years established its roots in Uganda and that the reforestation project was purely a symbolism of the company deepening its roots in a country that has become home as MTN Uganda prepares listing 20 per cent of its shares on the Uganda Stock Exchange.

“When the government of Uganda granted us our second operating license in 2020, one of the agreements was that MTN would list on the Uganda Securities Exchange by 2022,” revealed  Vanhelleputte. “To MTN, this is a very welcome step because listing on the Uganda Securities Exchange means that Ugandans will also now share a part of the company.”

He further noted that Uganda has been and continues to be a good home to MTN, adding that it is for this reason that MTN has closely worked with the government to complement its efforts in various sectors such as Health, Education, Youth Skilling and ICT, among others.

NFA Executive Director Tom Obong Okello planting a tree in Kwewaga forest reserve.

In his remarks, Tom Obong Okello, the NFA Executive Director, lauded MTN Uganda for supporting the government in reinstating forest cover in the country.

“This is one of the single biggest investments into the sector by any corporate organization so far. We are certain of MTN Uganda’s tremendous positive impact on the local communities and the entire country,” said Okello.

The ‘Uganda is Home’ campaign comes shortly after MTN Uganda hit a milestone of 15 million subscribers, further deepening its roots in the country as the leading telecom company of choice. Vanhelleputte has made it clear that MTN is committed to investing further to serve its ever-growing customer base diligently and to supporting the government’s efforts towards the socio-economic development of the Uganda.(For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com).

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