Airtel Africa, which has a presence in 14 countries across Africa, has launched a comprehensive sustainability strategy which sets out its detailed plans to improve the lives of millions of people across Africa through digital and financial inclusion and access to education. The strategy also includes specific goals around environmental protection and the ongoing development of a rewarding, diverse and inclusive workplace.
Airtel has worked hard to identify the technical programmes needed to respond to all its material topics and to have a genuine and positive impact on people and communities across Africa. The strategy sets specific goals and commitments, and for each of these, the firm has identified exactly how it will achieve them and the milestones along the way.
The strategy has been developed with input from the Airtel Africa Board and Executive Committee in order to ensure that it is aligned with the Company’s corporate strategy and plans. The firm also engaged with its stakeholders throughout the development of the strategy and undertook a detailed stakeholder consultation ahead of its launch.
The strategy is delivered through four sustainability pillars:
- ‘Our business’ which reflects Airtel Africa’s operations and the expansion of our network
- ‘Our people’ which sets commitments around employee engagement, development, diversity and inclusion
- ‘Our community’ which details dedication to improving access to education
- ‘Our environment’ which is focused on reducing the environmental impact of the firm’s operations.
Airtel has identified six of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which it believe its work will make a genuine and tangible contribution – that is SDG 4: Quality education, SDG 5: Gender equality, SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth, SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG 10: Reduced inequalities, and SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production.
Segun Ogunsanya, CEO, Airtel Africa, said: “Today is a significant milestone in Airtel Africa’s journey. Our new strategy provides a solid foundation for us to accelerate change for the communities we serve and the environment in which we operate. We have worked closely with our stakeholders to ensure that this strategy is ambitious, robust and credible. This partnership approach underpins all the work we will deliver through our strategy. We will look to collaborate across the industry, recognizing that by working together, we will be able to drive a more significant impact for the people who need it most. We are more committed than ever to ensuring open and honest communication on our progress as Airtel Africa embarks on its long journey towards a more sustainable future.
Goals and commitments
The sustainability strategy includes nine goals and commitments, with corresponding programmes that address the business’ material topics (identified through an extensive consultation at the beginning of the year) and enable the Group to continue delivering sustainable growth and uphold the best governance standards:
- Data security goal: Establish industry-leading data security for its customers through investments in technology and expertise, updated processes and consumer awareness – with focus areas around confidentiality, integrity and availability.
- Service quality goal: Provide underserved communities with access to reliable networks and connectivity through the rollout of new infrastructure and technology, improved fibre connectivity and capacity – with focus areas on service accessibility, delivery and reliability.
- Supply chain goal: Ensure all its suppliers are aligned with the sustainability agenda through programmes to increase supplier disclosure and audit ESG performance – with focus areas on enhanced supplier due diligence and ongoing ESG compliance.
- Commitments to its people: With its ongoing commitment to provide rewarding employment opportunities and to achieve genuine diversity and inclusion at all levels across the business through:
o Delivering equality in the workforce through recruitment and programmes to provide training and advancement for everyone regardless of gender, nationality or disability;
o Providing best practice training and development through upskilling and reskilling initiatives to ensure they can succeed in their future careers. And through supporting female entrepreneurs through training and increasing women’s participation in the technology and engineering sectors;
o Providing the highest standards of health and safety for employees and contractors through the introduction of a best practice social and health and safety management system, improved policies and full compliance with all legislation and regulation; and,
o Maintaining the highest levels of employee engagement through the introduction of additional channels that provide every one within the firm with a voice.
- Digital inclusion goal: significantly improve digital Inclusion across Africa by driving the penetration of mobile, smartphones and home broadband in rural areas through the provision of retail and support services.
- Financial inclusion goal: significantly increase financial inclusion in Africa, with particular support for women through the development of affordable financial products to meet the needs of the un- and under-banked, a reliable service and financial confidence and literacy.
- Access to education goal: helping transform the lives of over 1 million children through improving access to education – with programmes around connectivity, the provision of zero-rated education content under a 5-year UNICEF partnership, connecting 1,400 schools to the internet by 2027, and the adoption and support of schools in all our markets.
- Greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal: the ambition is to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions ahead of the 2050 deadline set out in the Paris Agreement. The firm will establish and launch a sector leading and credible decarburization pathway in 2022, ahead of the publication of its first Sustainability Report.
- Environmental stewardship: Eliminate hazardous waste from its operations, significantly reduce non-hazardous waste and minimize water consumption with programmes to replace damaging materials, expand recycling schemes and build employees’ awareness around the protection of natural resources.
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