MTN will elaborate on thoughts about how it working towards reducing the digital divide and increasing financial inclusion at WEF 2019. Photo: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – MTN group chief executive Rob Shuter will contribute to a series of high-level panel topics, including the establishment of a single African market under the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement and accelerating investment to support universal access to broadband. 

The communications giant said, in a statement released by the company on Monday, that in addition MTN would elaborate on thoughts about how the company was working towards reducing the digital divide and increasing financial inclusion. 

Africa’s biggest mobile operator by subscribers is participating in the World Economic Forum (WEF) from January 22 to 25, the most highly anticipated yearly gathering of the world’s top leaders from politics, business, civil society and academia, typically recaps major developments on the global landscape and sets the agenda for impactful conversations in all sectors. 

The WEF Davos 2019 theme is Globalisation 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Shuter said: “With the youthful population in Africa being born digital, and mobile devices and networks being at the heart of the digital revolution on our continent, the 4th Industrial Revolution gives the continent an opportunity to leverage our assets to leapfrog development and economic growth. We must invest in the future and be prepared. MTN understands that investing in digital does not only make financial sense, it will be the life blood that sustains us all as we move towards the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

The company has 220 million customers across 21 countries, making it one of the largest emerging market telecommunications groups in the world. 

MTN, which has been making headlines for attracting hefty fines from Nigerian authorities, is expected to turn around the fines wiped out two-thirds of its value last year, according to analysts.

The mobile giant agreed to pay just $52.6 million (R728.3m), a fraction of the $8.1bn initial fine for allegedly improperly repatriating monies between 2007 and 2015. However, it is not out of the woods, as the attorney-general of that country still wants the company to pay $2bn in back taxes.