by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – MTN has implemented a number of proactive and innovative measures to minimise disruptions for communities, businesses, schoolchildren and families across South Africa in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).
Innovations include ding zero-rated channels and free peer-to-peer payments.
In addition to the active network monitoring, MTN has also zero-rated a USSD line (*130*119#) for reporting infections and for other critical information. There are also two zero-rated Ayoba COVID-19 channels that are already live and are sharing updated news and information.
As part of MTN’s response to the Competition Commission’s Data Service Market Inquiry, MTN also announced that with immediate effect, concerned family members and friends can stay in touch through a free 20MB Ayoba Data Lifeline that can be accessed via the Ayoba app.
MTN is also working with the National Department of Health to raise awareness of its official Department of Health Corona WhatsApp channel.
The Department is calling on South Africans to save the number, 060 012 3456.
To reduce the circulation of cash – a major infection vector – MTN’s MoMo app will, from Monday, allow for free peer-to-peer cash payments under R200.
Card to wallet, instant electronic transfers and payments to agents and participating retailers will also be zero-rated in a bid to ease the burden on consumers.
In addition, the charge to send non-MoMo users a cash voucher will be made a flat rate of R10, rather than the normal sliding scale that is linked to the value of the cash being shared.
MTN South Africa, together with the Department of Basic Education (DBE), and Siyavula Foundation ensured that Grades 10, 11 and 12 learners stay on top of their curriculum material over the coming weeks.
Access to the e-learning platform of the Siyavula Foundation is already zero-rated for all MTN customers, which means the website can be used with no data costs being incurred.
In addition, the MTN Foundation has sponsored all Grade 10, 11 and 12 students, with an amount of R3 million, to have full access to the mathematics, CAT and IT and Physical Sciences, learning materials, including practise sheets and exam preparation content.
This can be accessed using the Siyavula website (www.siyavula.com) and via the Siyavula app (available in the Google Store).
The MTN Foundation’s sponsorship has also given the learners access to Siyavula’s adaptive mathematics learning software available on the same zero-rated website and app.
Dr Mark Horner, physicist and founder of Siyavula Education, said by providing all Grade 10 -to-12 Mathematics, CAT and IT and Physical Sciences learners with unlimited practice and examination questions at their level, automatically marking their answers, showing full model solutions and a real-time dashboard to track their progress, would enable pupils take ownership of their learning.
Kusile Mtunzi-Hairwadzi, General Manager: MTN SA Foundation, said the impact of the COVID-19 virus was far-reaching and affecting all areas of school, work and life.
“Our hope is that providing access to this digitised content will go far in supporting learners with their studies and assist with the academic recovery plan of the Department of Basic Education,” she said.
The virus has infected some 150 people in South Africa.
Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs for MTN SA, said the company would continue exploring ways to help the government mitigate the disruptive impact of COVID-19.
Apart from increasing much-need digital learning and education services MTN is working on a number of other affordable offers to keep customers and businesses connected, and children entertained, she said.
“Details will be made available in the coming days,” O’Sullivan concluded.
– CAJ News