South African govt urges MTN to find ‘amicable solution’ to Ghana tax woes


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The operator disputes the legitimacy of the $773 million tax bill forced upon it by the Ghana Revenue Authority

At the start of this year, the Ghanaian tax regulator announced that it was issuing MTN Ghana a bill of roughly $773 million, including penalties and interest, claiming the operator had underpaid its taxes for multiple years the previous decade.

The announcement came following the Ghana Revenue Authority’s audit of the operator’s finances for the years 2014–2018, with the regulator finding that MTN had under-declared its revenue by around 30% during this period.

“The base component of the assessment (that is, excluding penalties and interest), on MTN Ghana’s analysis, infers that MTN Ghana under-declared its revenue by approximately 30% over the audit period,” explained the regulator in a statement.

MTN “strongly disputes” these findings, saying they are inaccurate and made use of a flawed methodology.

“It is important to also emphasise that we believe MTN Ghana has paid its due taxes during this period under assessment,” MTN’s CEO Ralph Mupita told analysts at a meeting earlier this month.

Legal proceedings are ongoing to resolve the situation.

This week, however, the South African government has begun to weigh in on the dispute, urging the two parties to find an ‘amicable solution’ to the conflict.

The international relations and cooperation minister Dr Naledi Pandor called for fairness in resolving the legal battle, arguing that greater cooperation was needed between the two countries, especially in the telecommunications sector.

“Our common destiny, as outlined in the Agenda 2063 aspirations, depend on win-win intra-African collaboration and cooperation,” she said.

Agenda 2063 is a set of initiatives currently under implementation by the African Union, aimed at improving the continent’s economy and promoting closer collaboration between nations. The plan includes numerous flagship projects, ranging from the establishment of a high-speed continental rail network to the creation of a Great African Museum.

Crucially, many of these projects are directly tied to the telecoms industry, such as the creation of a pan-African digital data network, collaboration on cybersecurity, and the establishment of an open, digital Pan-African University.

In related news, it should also be noted that Ghana is currently experiencing a major economic crisis, with inflation rising above 50% and the government seeking financial aid from the International Monetary Fund. If ever there was a time when the government could do with a financial windfall, this is undeniably it.

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T-Mobile pledges net-zero emissions by 2040 – including Scope 3


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The operator says it is the first US operator to make such a commitment

This week, T-Mobile has announced its latest sustainability goals, aiming to reduce its emissions to net-zero across its entire carbon footprint by 2040.

Crucially, this new goal encompasses not only Scope 1 and 2 emissions – those generated directly by the company’s own operations and indirectly by the company’s purchased electricity – but also Scope 3 emissions, those caused by the company’s wider supply chain, its employees, and its customers.

These Scope 3 emissions currently account for two-thirds of the company’s carbon footprint.

The goals have reportedly been validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) using their Net-Zero Standard framework.

“While T-Mobile’s net-zero goal is a decades-long endeavor, we know how important it is to take definitive actions now to reduce our environmental impact for future generations,” said Janice Kapner, chief communications and corporate responsibility officer at T-Mobile. “We’re committed to measurable progress and holding ourselves accountable with strong governance practices, consistent and transparent reporting, and ongoing collaboration with leading sustainability experts.”

In addition to announcing their new net-zero goals, T-Mobile also revealed that that they have signed The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reaching net-zero 10 years ahead of the timeline set out by The Paris Agreement. As part of this pledge, the company has agreed to measure and report its greenhouse gas emissions regularly, implement various decarbonisation strategies, and eliminate any remaining emissions with “additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially beneficial offsets”.

It is worth noting here that T-Mobile’s progress towards this goal is already well underway, with the company having used nothing but renewable energy for around a year now.

T-Mobile’s largest rivals, AT&T and Verizon, meanwhile, have announced their own sustainability targets, though neither of them have announced plans to eliminate Scope 3 emissions.

Verizon, is aiming to reach net-zero operational emissions by 2035, including a 53% reduction in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions between 2019 and 2030. It is also aiming for half of its total energy consumption to be derived from renewable sources by 2025.

Since December 2019, the operator has announced numerous Renewable Energy Purchase Agreements, amounting to roughly 2.6 GW, with the latest deal being struck earlier this year.

AT&T has similar goals, aiming for carbon neutrality across its own operations (Scope 1 and 2) by 2035. The operator said it would achieve this target by focussing on using renewable energy, bolstering energy efficiency, and reducing fleet emissions through optimisation and the introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Are US operators doing enough to reduce their carbon footprint and promote a more sustainable future? Join the experts in discussion at this year’s live Connected America conference

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Telia preps to cut 1,500 jobs as Q4 results disappoint


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The job cuts come amongst a raft of cost-cutting measures that have been ongoing since the start of 2021

This week, the announcement of Telia’s lacklustre Q4 results has been accompanied by an acceleration of job cutting plans, with the company set to reduce its headcount by 1,500 this year.

According to the company’s earnings statement, the first 1,000 of these jobs will be slashed in Q1 this year, with the remaining 500 expected to be cut by the end of the year.

The company currently employs around 20,000 full time staff in various markets.

Telia has been attempting to cut costs significantly for a number of years now, in 2021 laying out a new strategic plan that included job cuts, asset divestiture, and operational streamlining.

At the time, the company said it would aim to cut 1,000 jobs a year until 2025, but now the macroeconomic environment, including rising energy prices and inflation, is forcing the company to accelerate its strategy.

Struggling under the weight of $2 billion in non-financial impairments related to its Norwegian and Finnish units, this year Telia noted a net loss of roughly $1.8 billion –a stark contrast to the profit it recorded for the same period a year ago.

“We are transforming a large, complex business in a challenging market and there are no shortcuts to success. We have known from the start that achieving our ambitious goals demands focus, discipline and perseverance,” said Telia CEO Allison Kirkby. “However, having returned the company to growth, expanded our 5G networks, passed our investment peak and built the foundations for better operational momentum and cash conversion going forward, I remain confident we are on the right track.”

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BT announces apprentice recruitment drive despite looming cost cuts


News

The operator says it plans to hire over 400 apprentice and graduates in its September 2023 intake

This week, UK incumbent operator BT has announced that it is looking to foster the next generation of telecoms talent by bringing on board over 400 new recruits in the coming year.

The new apprentices and graduates will be recruited to work in a variety of areas within the business, including engineering, customer service, and cybersecurity.

These jobs will be made available at a variety of locations around the UK, primarily in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Ipswich, Leeds, London, and Manchester.

BT notes that many of these offices are part of its ongoing Better Workplace Programme, a scheme first announced back in 2019 that sought to consolidate the company’s 300 offices into just 30 as part of broader cost cutting measures. The Programme, which is set to be completed next year, aimed to modernise these remaining locations, creating “future fit, high tech workspaces where colleagues can collaborate, innovate and deliver the best service for BT Group’s customers and for the business”.

It is also worth noting here that his hiring process will be undertaken with BT’s Manifesto in mind, aiming to more diversified workforce by 2030. As part of the plan, BT is targetting a 50:50 gender split within the workforce, as well as ethnic minority groups making up 25% of staff, and people with disabilities comprising 17%.

“As one of the largest private sector employers of apprentices and graduates in the UK, we continue to recruit and attract brilliant people into our business and we offer unparalleled development opportunities to those who join us,” said Athalie Williams, BT Group’s Chief Human Resources Officer. “Despite the current economic backdrop, we’re building a future pipeline of talent to help drive growth across our business, deliver great outcomes for all of our customers and to underpin economic growth in the UK.”

The operator says it has recruited over 2,600 apprentices and graduates over the last five years, with around 4,000 of the company’s staff working towards qualifications at any one time.

This announcement of further recruitment comes at a relatively delicate time for BT.

Last November, the company said that soaring energy prices would force it to seek even more cost savings by 2025 than previous expected, increasing targets from £2.5 billion to £3 billion. Some of these cost savings would “inevitably” be derived from a reduction in staff, according to BT CEO Philip Jansen.

It is also worth noting that BT has only recently settled a pay dispute with its existing engineers and call centre staff, which saw disgruntled workers vote for the first national strike action in 35 years. In November, BT agreed to settle the despute by offering staff a £1,500 pay rise.

Is the UK telecoms industry doing enough to nurture the next generation of telecoms talent? Join the operators in discussion at this year’s upcoming Connected North conference

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Urguay’s Antel works with VMware on cloud-supported use case-driven trial

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India announces home-grown mobile OS

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