LIVE FROM MWC KIGALI 2023: Ebenezer Asante, SVP markets at MTN Group (pictured) reiterated a five-year strategy aimed at unlocking the potential of network infrastructure to boost Africa’s business and economic landscape, while insisting a digitalisation push by operators must complement state efforts. 

During his keynote speech, Asante noted MTN’s Ambition 2025 strategy was based on the view that “we believe everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life”, and includes wide-ranging efforts to support African enterprises and improve user value. 

A large part of this strategy entails the delivery and creation of the largest digital platforms, expanding the company’s existing portfolio. Asante also pointed out a commitment to invest $2 billion in capex every year, until 2025. 

The executive argued a fresh approach is required to cement partnerships with the government, noting that “business must respond to the needs of society sustainably and must complement state efforts” in delivering real, long-term growth in the continent’s digitalisation journey. 

Asante added the role of digitalisation will create “new opportunities at an individual, enterprise, state and societal levels”. 

However, he warned Africa needs to deploy its digital strategies at “twice the pace of the rest of the world”, noting a digital skills gap in the continent is well known. 

He cited a forecast which will see the arrival of 230 million digital-centric jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa, and that “we need to prioritise this fast”, highlighting upskilling in AI and computing. 

With this, he emphasised industry players and state actors to keep a close eye on the social impact of vast digitalisation: “The potential of digitalisation is limitless, and there lies a need to balance the ethics of digitalisation. We must not only use digitalisation to leapfrog development ladder but leapfrog its ails”.