If MTN was a man, fashioned out of flesh and blood, what kind of man would he be?
He would be 20 years old, a strapping young man, legally an adult and on the cusp of something monumental. A recent graduate, especially in this jet age when kids finish secondary school at 16 and are out of University by 20, MTN would be getting set to serve Nigeria by enrolling in the National Youth Service Corps.
There would be anxious moments at home as the family awaits his posting for primary assignment especially with many parts of the country roiled by sundry shades of violence and insurgency. But young and imbued with the invincibility of youth, MTN would not be too bothered especially for a young man whose personal mantra is Everywhere You Go!
MTN would have a girlfriend; a pretty young woman fond of downloading songs via MTN’s CallerTunes. Already out of school too and waiting for NYSC, she would spend her free moments, lying in bed or hunched over flipping through tik tok videos or watching movies on a streaming service thanks to her MTN Social Media Bundle or Video Streaming Pack.
And when NYSC comes by, MTN would go to serve his country bringing his unique cheer everywhere he goes. He would probably volunteer as a drug counselor and would share with his young student in the school where he has been posted to teach, the dangers of drug use and addiction.
As a graduate of business administration, he would be assigned to teach Economics or Mathematics. He would be dedicated and committed because at 20 and teaching 17 and 18 year olds in some provincial locale, MTN would be more big brother than teacher and he would play that role well.
In the evenings, he would play 5-Aside with fellow corps members and his students then after his shower he would lie in bed and chat on WhatsApp with his girlfriend who would be serving her fatherland in another state across the country. And sometimes when the month has gone far and money has gone low, boyfriend and girlfriend would borrow data just to keep in touch and keep the flames of love burning.
Then before 9 o’clock when his parents would sit to listen to NTA news @ 9, MTN would go to WhatsApp and logging on to the family platform, chat briefly with his parents and siblings. Starting always with “Y’ello mum and dad”, MTN would tell them about his day, about the student in his class whose novel was stolen and who tired of looking for the book left an angry note on the black board – Whoever stole my book, shall WRATH in hell!
He had spotted the spelling error and burst into laughter, upsetting the boy who did not find it funny and who did not realize that even though “rot” and “wrath” may sound alike, there is still a world of difference between them.
“I want the person to wrath in hell,” the boy insisted at break time when MTN tried to console him and the young teacher did not know how to tell his student that the difference between “rot” and “wrath” is as wide as the gulf between 2G and 4G.
But of course MTN is not a man. MTN is a corporate entity, the primus inter pares in Nigeria’s telecommunication space. Taking off officially on May 6, 2001 when it made its first call, the company which has its roots in South Africa, quickly became Nigeria’s leading GSM Company.
It satisfied the cravings of a country with a large population disenfranchised for years from connecting with one another no thanks to Nigeria’s comatose telecommunication giant, Nitel. With their exciting adverts and eye catching commercials, MTN spread its network coverage across Nigeria with their slogan – Everywhere you go.
The strategic roll out and unerring focus on business excellence has made MTN not just the leader in the sector but also the trailblazer and niche leader in the business services segment.
With 76.5million subscribers and over $1.8 billion invested building mobile telecommunications infrastructure in Nigeria, the company which commissioned its 3,400 Kilometre Y’elloBahn digital microwave transmission backbone in January 2003 (reputed to be the most extensive digital microwave transmission infrastructure in all of Africa) now boasts coverage across 223 cities and towns, more than 10,000 villages and communities and a growing number of highways across the country, spanning the 36 states of the Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory.
As market leader, MTN has not been all about the money. With 2.5m jobs created and N2.3trillion paid to the Nigerian government as taxes, levies and fees, the company has spent over N22bn through the MTN Foundation in giving back to the Nigerian society and community in various ways from supporting arts and culture via initiatives like the “Life in My City” art project to the “MUSON Music Scholars programme” as well as the “Anti-Substance Abuse Programme” (ASAP) which provides advocacy against drug use and abuse. Other areas of concern include youth entrepreneurship, maternal health, orphanage support and ICT skills acquisition.
To democratize wealth and expand its pool of Nigerian shareholders, MTN listed its shares by introduction on the premium board of the Nigerian Stock Exchange on May 16, 2019 to an enthusiastic response.
Socially responsive and responsible as always, MTN has been in the forefront of efforts to combat the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic with direct and direct contributions to customers (N20.3bn), frontline workers (N503m), government (N4.2bn) and to communities and businesses (N1.05bn).
As MTN enters its 20th year with annual revenue for 2020 exceeding N1.3trillion, the hope is that the symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship between the corporate entity and the Nigerian state and people will continue especially as the country finalizes plans to begin roll out of 5G services with MTN expected to lead the charge as market leader and primus inter pares of the sector.