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MTN: On the Road to Net Zero by 2040

At the 2021 Better World Summit, Dirk Karl, Chief Procurement Officer for MTN, explained MTN's commitment to net zero and the need for supply-side collaboration.

By Dirk Karl, Chief Procurement Officer, MTN
WinWin Issue 40
Dirk Karl

With 277 million mobile subscribers, MTN is the seventh largest global carrier in terms of mobile network subscriptions. We are active in 21 markets, mainly covering Africa’s emerging markets and the Middle East. 

We still need to connect those who are unconnected in emerging markets. To achieve this, we plan to deploy new infrastructure and densify our existing networks. However, MTN’s strategy is not just about flourishing in business: We also have a clear purpose, one that was proven under COVID. We aim to translate our work into a system that is relevant to both economic growth and to connecting society. To flourish in business, we also need to prioritize the well-being of communities and the industry ecosystem, including connecting the unconnected and fighting poverty. 

We believe that everyone deserves the benefits of a digital life and being connected.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) is central to our corporate strategy, Ambition 2025. ESG also incorporates green ICT. When we look at environmental protection, we also need to look at sustainability and governance. We have positioned ESG at the core of our strategy as a strategic framework from the telco perspective. About a third of telcos have developed scientific targets relating to ESG, with one third of those stating their intention to be net zero by 2050. 

We are more ambitious: We want to be net zero by 2040.

zero carbon

Cutting Emissions: Scopes 1-3

Technology companies such as Huawei have developed solutions like PowerStar, intelligent batteries, and passive cabinets that do not require air conditioning. This is part of the equation, because it can deliver incremental improvements in reducing emissions over time and is in line with the three scopes defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. If we are not prioritizing renewable energies to make our planet sustainable, then climate change will remain a threat, especially to emerging markets. In Africa, agriculture, mining, and other emerging industries will be affected by climate change, which will in turn affect Africa’s development trajectory and its ability to fight poverty.

If we continue on our Net Zero 2040 journey, we have to accept another challenge. We are already analyzing and setting targets based on 2020, where we saw a reduction of 6% in greenhouse gases. By 2030, we are expecting to achieve a 47% decrease in our carbon footprint.

Most telcos are currently addressing Scope 1 of the emissions’ landscape. As part of Scope 1, company vehicles alone can account for achieving 12% of the targets.  We are also looking at new generators, hybrid solutions, intelligent batteries, and the deployment of sites powered by solar energy for Africa and the Middle East. We have already trialed intelligent energy management with Huawei by deploying its PowerStar solution in 5,000 radio sites – the PowerStar management system, for example, can shut down idle sites when there is little or no traffic, bringing down OPEX as well as saving energy.

Scope 2 looks at energy consumption and the indirect pollution caused by purchasing energy, which we need to trade off at the moment. We are prioritizing renewable energies so that we can reach the 2030 emissions target set by Scope 2. Renewable energies require a collaboration roadmap, and we are working with vendors not just from the perspective of a sourcing strategy, but also from a commitment perspective. This year, we have launched 150 partnerships with suppliers, such as energy service companies, to achieve gains in efficiency, energy savings, and power management. 

We now collaborate with 193 suppliers and they will help us lower emissions by between 23% and 47%. 

Collaboration Is the Key

To move forward and achieve our targets, we need to think in terms of a collaborative supply chain – collaboration and commitment are why we believe net zero by 2040 is an achievable target.