MTN Group has signed an agreement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the provision of four million mosquito bed nets to malaria prone areas in Africa by the close of 2010.
Mr. Christian De Faria, Vice President of MTN West and Central Africa (WECA) region signed for MTN while Ms. Christina Barrineau from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation signed on behalf of the Foundation.
This was at the MTN Day event which brought together delegates from MTN operations in the West and Central Africa (WECA) region to share ideas and strengthen operational links. The event was on the theme: “Winning as One”.
The malaria initiative formed part of MTN's FIFA World Cup 2010 sponsorship package and was intended to leave a lasting legacy on the continent after the 2010 soccer fiesta slated for South African in June next year.
Mr De Faria said by that single act of signing an agreement with the Foundation, MTN would be working with several other collaborators including the United Nations, John Hopkins University, international musicians like Bono and Yousif Ndou and others to ensure the success of the project.
“MTN would provide the resources and the other collaborators would provide the expertise to ensure effectiveness in the delivery of the bed nets across the needy areas,” he said.
He said MTN would also send regular SMS messages to its customers in the malaria prone countries to encourage the use of mosquito bed nets.
Ms Barrineau said MTN came onboard the anti-malaria team as “the striker who will score that much needed goal against malaria.”
She said when it came to the notice of the other collaborators that MTN had a theme; “We can't wait – Let's go 2010”, they thought it was opportune to take advantage of that platform to nib malaria in the bud.
“We are pleased that MTN is willing to invest into saving the lives of many Africans who may have died without mosquito bed nets,” she said.
Ms Barrineau said with MTN coming onboard the UN and it collaborators were sure that a further four million lives would be preserved from malaria.
Mr Xolisa Vapi, MTN Group Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) said the pay-offline for the FIFA World Cup 2010 “We can't wait, Let's go 2010” was also an expression of MTN's clarion call to reduce the incidence of malaria from the continent.
He said the company also intended to leave another legacy of improved infrastructure and to demonstrate to the world that the African Continent was capable of hosting events of the size of the FIFA World Cup.
“Our confidence in Africa's ability to pull off this major event is evidenced by the quantum of our sponsorship of the tournament, US$65 million,” he said.
Mr Vapi said MTN would replicate the Germany 2006 fan parks concepts across the continent during South Africa 2010 to afford Africans the chance to watch the football action live on giant screens.
He also assured subscribers that they would be receiving updates on the tournaments through SMS.
Mr Vapi noted that 11 of the 21 MTN countries were part of the current group standings for the world football spectacle and seven, including host nation team Bafana Bafana and Ghana were likely to move to the next final stage of the tournament.
He urged citizens of competing Africa states, particularly those in MTN countries to secure their tickets early from the FIFA websites before the rush for tickets towards the D-day.
Ghana's Michael Essien was on contract with MTN to be an ambassador flying the MTN flag around the world ahead of the tournament.
MTN is the first fully owned African corporate sponsor of the FIFA World Cup. With 90 million subscribers across 21 countries, Mr Vapi said MTN was more than ready to make the 2010 world soccer tournament a spectacular one.