How MTN SA is moving to ease COVID-19 disruption

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MTN SA moves to ease COVID-19 disruption with key digital innovations, including zero-rated channels and free peer-to-peer payments

The impact of the COVID-19 virus is far-reaching and MTN has implemented a number of proactive and innovative measures to minimise disruptions for communities, businesses, schoolchildren and families across South Africa.

MTN has amplified its monitoring of critical infrastructure to ensure the maximum network availability for all our customers. This is also helping ensure MTN provides sufficient capacity to accommodate the increased work-from-home traffic.

In addition to the active network monitoring, MTN has also zero-rated a USSD line (*130*119#) for reporting infections and for other critical information. There are also two zero-rated Ayoba COVID-19 channels that are already live and are sharing updated news and information. As part of MTN’s response to the Competition Commission’s Data Service Market Inquiry, MTN also today announced that with immediate effect, concerned family members and friends can stay in touch through a free 20MB Ayoba Data Lifeline that can be accessed via the Ayoba app.

MTN is also working with the National Department of Health to raise awareness of its official “Dept of Health Corona” WhatsApp channel. The Department is calling on South Africans to save the number 060 012 3456 and to message “hi” to receive the latest updates directly from the experts. MTN will be sending messages to its 29 million customers to encourage use of the channel, rather than flooding the already overloaded hotline with calls.

To reduce the circulation of cash – a major infection vector – MTN’s MoMo app will, from Monday, allow for free peer-to-peer cash payments under R200. Card to wallet, instant EFT and payments to agents and participating retailers will also be zero-rated in a bid to ease the burden on consumers. In addition, the charge to send non-MoMo users a cash voucher will be made a flat rate of R10, rather than the normal sliding scale that is linked to the value of the cash being shared.

In this time of physical distancing and school closures, it is imperative to ensure children continue learning and do not get behind on their curriculum. MTN South Africa together with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Siyavula Foundation have made sure that Grade’s 10, 11 and 12 learners stay on top of their curriculum material over the coming weeks.

Access to the e-learning platform of the Siyavula Foundation, is already zero-rated for all MTN customers, which means the website can be used with no data costs being incurred. In addition to this and with immediate effect, the MTN Foundation has sponsored all Grade 10, 11 and 12 students, with an amount of R3 million, to have full access to the mathematics, CAT and IT and Physical Sciences, learning materials, including practise sheets and exam preparation content. This can be accessed using the Siyavula website (www.siyavula.com) and via the Siyavula app (available in the Google Store).

The MTN Foundation’s sponsorship has also given South Africa’s Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners access to Siyavula’s adaptive mathematics learning software available on the same zero-rated website and app.

Dr. Mark Horner, Physicist and founder of Siyavula Education believes that, “by providing all Grade 10 -12 Mathematics, CAT and IT and Physical Sciences learners with unlimited practice and exam questions at their level, automatically marking their answers, showing full model solutions and a real-time dashboard to track their progress, we enable them to take ownership of their learning.”

“The impact of the COVID-19 virus is far-reaching and affecting all areas of school, work and life. Our hope is that providing access to this digitised content will go far in supporting learners with their studies and assist with the academic recovery plan of the Department of Basic Education”, says Kusile Mtunzi-Hairwadzi, General Manager: MTN SA Foundation.

“At best, the COVID-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity to explore alternate methods of education, expanding the uptake of digitised learning and teaching for the future,” continues Mtunzi-Hairwadzi.

The MTN SA Foundation has a long-standing partnership with the DBE to develop and digitise language, information technology and CAT learning materials which form part of the digital content presently available on the DBE’s portal and associated platforms.

“At MTN we believe that all South African’s deserve the benefit of a modern, connected life – especially during trying times like those we are currently facing as a nation. We will continue exploring ways to help government to mitigate the disruptive impact of COVID-19. Apart from increasing much-need digital learning and education services, whether through curriculum or connectivity, we are also currently working on number of other affordable offers to keep customers and businesses connected, and children entertained – details of which will be made available in coming days,” said Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs for MTN SA.