Nigerians have an opportunity to upgrade the healthcare, educational, and electricity facilities in 40 communities that they nominate in phase five of the ‘What Can We Do Together’ initiative under the MTN Give-back Give-back initiative.
According to the largest telecom operator in the country, the initiative is named ‘What Can We Do Together’ to give communities a say in the projects that the company commissions. The ultimate goal is to ensure there is a collective buy-in preventing a situation where a project is abandoned almost as soon as it is designated.
“We are looking at remodeling 40 primary health centres,” Mosun Belo-Olusoga, director of MTN Foundation said at the unveiling of the initiative on Monday. “We are also looking at 40 boreholes and 40 alternative power sources.”
The Give-back initiative started in 2015. It has since implemented 586 different projects in 530 local governments in Nigeria. Some of the projects include installing transformers across communities, equipping many schools with furniture, and upgrading many health centres. MTN Foundation has invested over N25 billion in different types of projects across Nigeria. The phase 5 initiative will cost the organisation N1 billion.
But MTN Foundation says it still does not assume that it knows what a community wants. Many corporates that have assumed they knew what a community needed at a point in time had built projects that ended up with little or no impact on the people.
“We set up 40 ICT labs in Nigeria. It is very deep and all-encompassing. We deployed over 600 laptops and we engaged in civil works. We provided furniture because the schools needed an ICT teacher and we had to give that. We installed solar-powered boreholes,” Belo-Olusoga said.
The initiative’s success also involves the active participation of partners. For phase five, MTN Foundation is partnering with the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PSHAN) and the Cece Yara Foundation.
Adetutu Ajibodu, CEO of Cece Yara Foundation, who has engaged many families at the community level says there is no success with the engagement of the community.
“Carrying them along helps to own the initiative. MTN cannot be in a community forever. Cece Yara is big on collaboration. By gaining access to these communities we are able to help more people,” Ajibodu said.
After completing the initiatives MTN Foundation also monitors the utility by the community. In doing this, it offers the top five communities that are able to maintain and even improve the projects an award of additional furniture and training. Belo-Olusoga says the projects are also targeted at primary health centres that charge a fee for their service. This is to ensure that the primary health centre has resources to maintain the facilities.
Nominations are currently ongoing and there are two ways participants can nominate projects in the communities. These are via SMS and on the web. Participants using SMS can start by texting MTN to 421. The SMS platform is free for MTN subscribers. However, participants who have used their number on the SMS platform would not be able to use it on the web platform. This is to avoid duplicate nominations.