Mobile telecommunications company MTN on Wednesday announced a R250 million relief package to help ease the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

MTN, which operates across 21 countries, said the package was focused on employees, subscribers, vulnerable groups and contributions to the South African government’s Solidarity Fund for those impacted by a lockdown aimed at arresting the spread of the coronavirus.

“MTN plays a vital role in the mobile and telecommunications industry across Africa and the Middle East and it is vital that we assist our employees, customers and stakeholders during this difficult time,” company chairman Mcebisi Jonas said in a statement.

FILE PHOTO: A worker walks past an MTN store in Johannesburg

MTN said it planned to raise R40 million for its global staff emergency fund for employees in need, through contributions from the group’s directors, managers and general staff.

The chairman, group chief executive, chief financial official and a number of MTN directors have pledged 30 percent of their board fees and salaries for the next three months. 

On Wednesday, the company said over R150 million would be invested in a package for subscribers including free SMS services, the waiving of fees for certain mobile money transactions, discounted calling during off-peak periods, zero-rating of certain health, social services and educational sites and payment concessions to business customers.

“Our main focus is on keeping our network in good working order and enable our customers to connect with their loved ones during this most difficult time for all,” group president and CEO Rob Shuter said.

MTN said it was also mobilising the work of its foundations across its markets to reach those most vulnerable through contributions towards tackling health emergencies to minimise the spread of Covid-19 and enabling students to remain productive by accessing vital school and university content, with a total contribution of at least R50 million.