April 14, 2022 telecom

Zain focused on providing meaningful connectivity


Zain Group is focused on providing meaningful connectivity and driving equitable systematic change, centered on a five-year corporate sustainability strategy, said Bader Al-Kharafi, Zain Vice-Chairman and Group CEO.

“Throughout 2021, Zain Group, a leading telecom innovator in seven markets across the Middle East and Africa, remained unwavering in its determination to drive equitable systemic change in the communities in which it operates by providing access to meaningful connectivity, especially in the face of many socio-economic and environmental challenges, and lasting impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, which hindered development across the globe,” he said after the group published its 11th consecutive annual sustainability report, entitled ‘A resilient journey across a challenging year’.

“Nevertheless, 2021 was a significant year for progress with respect to Zain’s sustainability agenda, underscored by the many initiatives successfully implemented across our footprint, and highlighted by the upgraded A- score received from CDP indicating our regional leadership in addressing climate change,” Al-Kharafi said.

Grounded on UN SDGs

In the report, Zain summarises its sustainability-related activities during the year based on its new five-year Corporate Sustainability strategy that is grounded on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with the purpose being centered on and driven by empowering and establishing long lasting value for the communities it serves.

The report showcases how Zain continues to improve and adapt its activities to align to international best practices and reporting that follows the GRI Standards Framework. Zain is also implementing the Sustainability Accounting Standard Board (SASB) framework for Telecommunications Services. Both standards are externally assured by Ernst & Young (Al Aiban, Al Osaimi and Partners) providing limited assurance.

Jennifer Suleiman, Zain Group’s Chief Sustainability Officer commented: “We are all aware of how tumultuous the last couple of years have been to live and work through. Being a customer-focused organisation with the responsibility to maintain meaningful connectivity and productivity for 7,000 staff and 50 million customers in an inclusive and equitable manner, was a challenging situation to overcome.

Supporting communities

“The contents of this report highlight how together we have managed that responsibility and supported our communities extremely well under the circumstances. We continue to learn and transition across all of our diverse sustainability activities and are delighted to be pioneering this area across the region.”

Zain’s five-year Corporate Sustainability strategy formulated in 2020 is centered on four pillars: Climate Change; Social Business; Inclusion; and Generation Youth. It is based on the UN’s SDGs, aiming to establish purpose-driven activities anchored in meaningful connectivity to drive equitable systematic change. Qualitative and quantitative targets have been embedded to ensure measurable metrics are set to assess and track the progress of Zain’s sustainability-related activities. The vision is to reduce inequalities, safeguard the planet, foster innovation, and build prosperous communities.

Highlights of sustainability initiatives

Most of the sustainability programmes implemented by Zain in 2021 addressed the challenges wrought by the pandemic and the company’s response to them:

•Expanding digital financial services, providing far-reaching benefits to needy groups within communities in Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan and Sudan, reaching a combined customer base of 1.5 million, undertaking 25 million transactions with an aggregate value of $2.3 billion in 2021

•Through its value chain, Zain was able to maintain 80,116 jobs.

•The annual Zain Ramadan commercial in partnership with UNICEF entitled, “No one is safe, until we are all safe”, addressed the challenge of vaccine hesitancy across the region, with the 2.55-minute-long video going viral and exceeding 10 million views on YouTube, as well as on regional satellite and local TV networks

•In Kuwait, the Shlonik application created by Zain assisted the Ministry of Health to ensure residents adhere to quarantine regulations, with 1.77 million people registering on the app.

•Supporting governments, Zain organised vaccination drives in markets resulting in over 12,000 vaccinations

•Fostering the development of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Zain launched the Women in Tech initiative undertaking 256 mentorship sessions across its operating markets

•Zain worked with the Canadian Centre for Children Protection to integrate Project Arachnid, software to reduce the availability of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) globally successfully integrated in Kuwait and is currently working on integrating it across other markets

•Launch of a Child Online Safety Booklet in collaboration with UNICEF, promoting safe esports and gaming to schools and universities

•Zain Jordan’s Basma Line+, a mobile bundle package, attracted 329 people from the deaf and mute community, while in Kuwait, Zain introduced two postpaid packages dedicated to people with disabilities

•With respect to products for the youth, in Sudan, discounted data bundles reached 6.2 million users

•The Zain Kids platform became available in several markets offering safe online content, reaching 1.6 million children, a quadrupling of child subscribers over the year

•Launch of BE WELL, a Group-wide diversity and inclusion programme aiming to foster the mental well-being of employees across operations

•Zain began to measure its water consumption across operations, implementing water reduction initiatives aiming to eliminate plastic consumption in addition to reducing waste in its warehouses by 50% by 2025

•Zain’s climate actions saw the company upgraded to A- in latest ‘CDP Score Report – Climate Change 2021’, ranking it first in-region and among leaders globally. This ranking is higher than the regional average for Asia of B-, and higher than the Media, Telecommunications & Data Centre Services sector average of B. Additionally, Zain took a major step in expanding its Scope 3 emissions inventory to report more accurately.-

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