The Role of the Private Sector in Community Development

MTN Foundation Solar Borehole installations in Umuchieze Community, Mbaise LGA, Imo State

A developing country such as Nigeria must prioritize certain basic needs in any initiative aimed at improving living conditions for the citizens. Fortunately, some of the most pressing touchpoints have been discovered and included in the framework for Nigeria’s development goals.

According to Nigeria’s 2020 Voluntary National Review (VNR) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the unique challenges facing the country include poverty, an inclusive economy, health and wellbeing, education, gender equality, an environment of peace and security, as well as partnerships. To achieve these goals, the government through its various bureaus, as well as international and private organizations, have all been working collectively, to lend a hand and improve the lives of as many vulnerable Nigerians as possible.

For reference, in response to the nation’s water crisis, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) presented a solar borehole at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Benue state. Similarly, the International Water Association-Young Water Researchers (IWA-YWP) Nigeria, presented a 5000-litre water reservoir and solar-powered borehole infrastructure with a charging station to inhabitants of Orisada Eyo in Ogun state, and the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), donated a solar-powered borehole to  Gaba community, in  Bwari Area Council, Abuja. The MTN Foundation also facilitated the building of a 650ft borehole in Damaturu Local Government Area through its “What Can We Do Together project”, a community-based “give-back” initiative. The Foundation has secured the delivery of potable water in over 50 villages as part of its mandate to support community development and reiterating the role that the telecommunications giant has continued to play in improving  lives.

 

The private sector is a key stakeholder in community development. As a major contributor to national income and a significant job creator and employer, it contributes to advancements in technology, governance, research development, workforce development and capacity building. The private sector plays an important role in most of the world’s health systems, and in many developing countries, like Nigeria, the private sector is principal, to the provision of health services. Foreign and local organisations including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Health Organisation (WHO), Medshare, Ca-covid, Smile Train, Azezat Olajumoke Gbenro Foundation and a host of others continue to collaborate with the Nigerian government to improve the healthcare system.

The MTN Foundation, through its numerous health initiatives, has refurbished over 24 maternity wards, 12 haemodialysis centres, and six mammography centres in public hospitals around the country. Recently, the Foundation donated two complete sets of dental chairs, two gynaecology endoscopy operation sets, and an ENT (Ear, Nose and throat) console workstation with treatment accessories unit, to the Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe state.

Speaking on the ENT (Ear, Nose and throat) console workstation installed by the MTN Foundation, the ENT specialist at the Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe State, Dr. Kabiru Abdullahi spoke on how easy and convenient it will be to treat patients with the installation of the new ENT workstation. He said that “The installation of the ENT console workstation here at the Federal Teaching Hospital is beneficial to both the patients and the doctors. The patients can now get consultations and treatments for a reduced cost, the workstation can easily double as a consulting and operating room for the doctors and we can diagnose and treat accurately without guess work”.

 

Speaking on MTN’s community development projects, the Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya said “At MTN we are driven by our core belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. We believe that the success of our business is tied to the well-being of the communities that we operate in, this is why we have tailored our interventions to align with national priorities and the Sustainable Development Goal’s (SDG). This is also evident in the annual dedication of one per cent of MTN’s profit after tax to the MTN Foundation.”

 

“We will continue to partner and collaborate with the government, through different initiatives to build sustainable communities, and improve the lives of Nigerians,” she s.aid

The MTN Foundation through education continues to support sustainable community development. The Foundation has provided ICT laboratories to over 60 secondary schools, scientific laboratories in 24 secondary schools and virtual ICT libraries in five universities. Scholarships have also been awarded to over 3,800 STEM students and over 800 blind students at public tertiary institutions around the country.

Initiatives like the ones pioneered by the MTN foundation are becoming increasingly vital, as the health system is now heavily reliant on private sector participation. This is made more noteworthy in light of the fact that the private sector is responsible for N2000b more in healthcare contributions than the Nigerian government.

The MTN Foundation (MTNF) was established in 2004 to manage the corporate social initiatives for MTN Nigeria Communications PLC, funded by up to one per cent of the company’s profit after tax annually, one of Nigeria’s first firms to do so. MTN Foundation has committed around NGN 23.7 billion across the federation’s 36 states and FCT, and today has over 924 project locations across Nigeria, with 48 separate programmes encompassing 2,604 communities and benefiting over 30,741,005 people.

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