Top 25 Corporations Demonstrating Best Practices in ESG 2024

Safaricom continues to solidify its stance as a pioneering force in the ESG landscape, embodying its purpose of ‘Transforming Lives’.

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SAFARICOM

With a remarkable recorded revenue of approximately USD 2.5 billion in 2023, Safaricom PLC is recognised as the leading telco in East Africa. Serving as a beacon of connectivity, Safaricom brings together over 43.75 million customers, underscoring its pivotal role in shaping the digital landscape of the region.

In its 12th annual sustainable business report titled ‘A Pathway to a Purpose-Led Technology Company’, Safaricom proudly showcases its unwavering commitment to impactful Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices underpinned by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The report meticulously delineates Safaricom’s actions, opportunities, and challenges in empowering the tech ecosystem in Kenya and beyond. It vividly portrays Safaricom’s purpose of ‘Transforming Lives’ across every stratum of society, business, and government.

The telco’s ESG targets are not just benchmarks; they represent a profound commitment to sustainable development. Towards the environment, Safaricom has embraced innovative technological solutions, significantly reducing paper consumption. Further, the telco has achieved an impressive 100 percent compliance with various regulations, including those related to air quality and noise levels. In the past year, Safaricom took significant strides in renewable energy, with the licensing of 16 data centres and offices for generator operations by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), and an accelerated deployment of solar technology to 1,432 sites. This initiative resulted in over 370 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) annually avoided.

Students from Tom Mboya Primary School in Mombasa County, during the launch of the 5G CPE on a Digitruck at Swahilipot
Hub in July 17, 2023. It’s a joint initiative of Safaricom Women in Technology, Huawei and Mombasa County Government.

In addition to these efforts, Safaricom has eliminated all single-use plastics in its offices, retail outlets and has enhanced waste management processes, leading to significant cost savings.

The telco aims to plant 5 million trees by 2025 in its carbon offset program; an initiative that will offset up to 26 percent of the company’s carbon emissions, further contributing to its aim of being a net zero emitter by 2050. Presently, 1.3 million trees thrive in once-degraded forests. This is delivered through a partnership with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

In the realm of social responsibility, Safaricom’s commitment is both multi-faceted and impactful. Beginning with robust community engagement initiatives, the corporation developed a comprehensive Safaricom Foundation strategy for 2023-2026. The foundation has so far has impacted an impressive 2.4 million lives through its various programs. 2023 saw Safaricom equip 1,027 young trainees with sustainable skills for the construction and hospitality industries under the Safaricom Foundation Scholarships initiative. Additionally, the M-PESA Foundation Academy positively influenced 414 learners and supported 574 students in tertiary institutions. Through the Afya Uzazi Salama program, Safaricom reached out to over 40,000 women, promoting community health and wellbeing. The telco’s dedication is further demonstrated through its support for 392 initiatives across 47 counties via the Ndoto Zetu Phase 4 initiative, benefiting a staggering 709,537 individuals. Safaricom’s engagement and empowerment of 530 farmers through Wezesha Agri showcase its unwavering commitment to uplifting communities and promoting social development.

Peter Ndegwa, Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Safaricom PLC

Secondly, in its pursuit of becoming a future-fit corporation, Safaricom strongly prioritises workforce diversity and inclusion, recognising the interconnection between these essential factors. There are strategic pillars that focus on accelerating the delivery of diverse talent and future-ready skills, in a bid to create a digital, personalised employee experience. Noteworthy progress has been made in Safaricom’s Agile goals, with 36 percent of the telco now operating in an Agile framework. Moreover, in the past year, Safaricom has established a Disability Council and onboarded 33 interns with disabilities through the IT Bridge Academy program. Over 40 percent of Safaricom’s management are women, aiming for a 50:50 gender balance in senior management by 2025. In addition, the telco dedicates 5.8 percent of its procurement spend to empower women-owned businesses. Currently, 3 percent of Safaricom’s workforce are persons with disabilities (PWDs), with plans to increase this to 5 percent by 2025, showcasing its dedication to equal opportunities.

Safaricom Foundation fulfilling dreams by empowering local women.

Safaricom demonstrates a deep commitment to employee wellbeing as an integral part of its social responsibility under the ESG framework. In 2023, the telco achieved an impressive fatality-free year of operations and reduced incidents by 20 percent year-on-year, attributing this success to embedding a zero-harm culture and visible leadership. Safaricom actively promotes safety through daily road safety messages, monthly webinars, and safety notice boards, fostering a vigilant mindset among employees. Moreover, Safaricom has implemented a proactive approach to incident reporting, enabling root cause analysis and the development of effective preventative actions. It manages and reduces occupational road risk for employees and suppliers through defensive driver training, vehicle cameras, and regular safety forums. Employee wellbeing was further enhanced in 2023 through initiatives like marathons, wellness webinars, and Zumba sessions, engaging 1,480 staff in fitness challenges. Safaricom also prioritises psychological wellbeing; it has introduced a dedicated toll-free counselling line and increased the number of clinical psychologists to support its employees.

Safaricom exemplifies exceptional corporate governance through transparency, ethical business practices and robust stakeholder engagement. The company’s dedication to compliance is evident in its proactive approach, surpassing the Quality of Service (QoS) regulatory threshold by 15.38 percent in 2023, achieving a score of 95.38 percent. Moreover, last year saw Safaricom achieve a spotless record, with zero regulatory fines or penalties. Safaricom’s engagement with regulators is versatile, encompassing active participation in face-to-face meetings, workshops, and information sessions. This approach not only ensures adherence to regulations but also fosters open dialogue on public policy issues, promoting a harmonious industry environment. Additionally, Safaricom emphasises ethical financial practices, with 63.53 percent of spending directed towards local suppliers in 2023, and a substantial contribution of KES 500 million from dealers to drought response efforts. The telco’s streamlined processes, such as automated Know Your Customer (KYC) collection and till swaps for agents, enhance its operational excellence. Safaricom’s strong support structures, including the Agent Support Team and the L300 Call Centre, provide swift resolutions to issues, further bolstering its stellar reputation.

Safaricom continues to solidify its stance as a pioneering force in the ESG landscape, embodying its purpose of ‘Transforming Lives’.

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Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Kenya’s Dr Hanningtone Gaya, holds a PhD in Commerce in Business Management from Nelson Mandela University (NMU), is viewed as an authority in country branding and is the founder chairman of the Brand Kenya Board.

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