We must work as one to cut greenhouse emissions

Sylvia Mulinge.

What you need to know:

We have taken the battle to our office premises by replacing compact fluorescent lamps with LEDs to minimise power consumption and carbon dioxide emission.

The impact of climate change may seem farfetched for many Ugandans, but the country is already experiencing the effects as evidenced by the prolonged droughts, landslides, floods, and changes in weather seasons, writes Sylvia Mulinge.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visiting a hybrid network site in Luweero District, 60 kilometres north of Kampala.

This site, which shall be converted to a 100 percent low carbon emission site, currently employs 40 solar panels to serve a rural population of more than 22,000 in Nakigonza and Tongo in Zirobwe sub-county.

We recognise the adverse effects of climate change on communities we operate in and in turn the business we operate.

It is our commitment to seek ways through which we can minimise greenhouse emissions. As such, we have already ensured that all our infrastructure and operations now have environmental sustainability to align ourselves to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Telecoms are now using solar powered towers as a way of reducing greenhouse emissions.  

While the impact of climate change may seem farfetched for many Ugandans, the country is already experiencing the effects as evidenced by the prolonged droughts, landslides, floods, and changes in weather seasons.

These are threatening health, food and water security while curtailing social-economic development.

In September last year, mudslides in Rukooki, Kasese District in western Uganda led to loss of lives of no less than 15 people, destroyed homes and property while just two months earlier in July, 24 lives perished in floods in Mbale District, including a group of friends and family on their way to a traditional wedding ceremony.  

Similar disasters have occurred in various parts of the country leading to loss of lives and livelihood. It is imperative that action is taken by all, however small, to turn the tide.

As a company, we have embarked on a journey that will turn the tide through Project Zero, in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Launched in 2021, Project Zero is leveraging the latest technologies and service partnerships to deliver greater energy efficiency, lower carbon emissions, reduce risks and improve cost controls.

We are transitioning to a low-carbon economy and adopting cleaner energy technologies that include integrating hydro electric energy, solar and lithium-ion battery storage.
Where sites are running more than seven hours on diesel, we are actively migrating them to hydro power grid to minimise the run hours.

Where the installation space permits, sites are being converted to 100 percent solar powered sites with 60 solar panels or more while for locations where installation space remains a challenge, 87 percent of these run a hybrid solution of solar and hydro power grid.  

We have also deployed energy saving solutions that power down the sites during off peak hours and migrated almost 100 percent of our sites to outdoor solutions that do not require high powered air conditioning which collectively lowers energy consumption.

All these solutions are lowering our emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and are bringing us closer to our 2040 goal of Net Zero carbon emission. Beyond this, we have taken the battle to our office premises by making a number of interventions, replacing compact fluorescent lamps with LEDs to minimise power consumption and carbon dioxide emission.

We have also put in place measures that encourage staff to recycle, reduce and reuse mentality for waste management and the result are already visible.
For instance, in October 2022, one tonne of used paper generated from our operations was recycled and all our kitchen waste was sorted into recyclable, biodegradable, and non-recyclable which minimises environmental pollution.

We also operate in a paperless environment where all documents are signed digitally. This is intended to minimise paper usage, which in turn conserves trees that are crucial in the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere hence combating climate change.

All these interventions are to enable the benefits of a modern connected life for all Ugandans sustainably.

Eco responsibility

We are implementing the eco-responsibility strategy which emphasizes commitment to protecting the planet by achieving net zero emissions by 2040.  Out target is to reduce greenhouse emissions from 11,882 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCOe2) which was the baseline in 2021 to 5941 tCOe2 by 2030 and to 0 tCOe2 by 2040 for scopes one, two, and three where scope one covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, scope two indirect emissions from generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling consumed and scope three, which includes all other indirect emissions in a company’s value chain.

The writer is the chief executive officer at MTN.


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