Kuwait City – Zain Group, the leading telecommunications provider in eight countries across the Middle East and Africa, announces the publication of its second sustainability report, which is titled “Dedicated to the Promise of a Wonderful World”. Building on the success of its inaugural report published in 2012, the publication offers in-depth insights into various regional sustainability-related challenges that put pressures on the business. The report also highlights Zain’s approach in successfully overcoming these challenges, both by the Group and its operations, and additionally, it transparently addresses the risks the organization faces in further conducting its business.
“Dedicated to the Promise of a Wonderful World” was prepared utilizing the Global Reporting Initiatives – GRI G3.1 Guidelines and the principles of materiality, inclusivity and responsiveness taken from the AA 1000 Accountability Principles Standard.
The report also includes the results from the organization’s first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Survey, conducted in 2012, measuring its CSR priorities and perspectives of its employees and partners, reflecting Zain’s commitment to maintaining a continuous and constructive dialogue between the organization and its stakeholders. The survey achieved a significant response rate of 57% participation. Focus was given to workers’ rights, human rights, the environment, ethics and governance, community involvement and supplier relation. In addition to the survey, Zain took at a closer look at the gender disparity thereby pledging to address the gender gap in leadership positions within Zain and across the regional telecommunications industry.
Sustainability developments that have been documented by the Group in the year since the publication of the inaugural report include: Zain Kuwait having been identified as having the country’s best CSR program by the Arab Organization for Social Responsibility in December 2012; and Zain’s initiative to bring clean water to villages in the Red Sea State in the Republic of Sudan, which impacted an estimated 1.53 million people during 2012.
Commenting on the publication of the report, Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer said, “Zain is committed to adopting a more sustainable business model covering capacity building, education, health issues and greater benefits of the communities we serve. We are positioning ourselves as a regional telecommunication leader not only through our innovative products and services, but also through our proactive self-governance and our ever-increasing social contribution.”
He continued, “Zain Group is a pioneering organization at its core, and we hope that the transparent documenting and, more importantly, our undertaking of sustainability developments is something that will be considered by other players in the region. There has been tremendous progress achieved by the organization with respect to sustainability activities since the publication of the inaugural report in 2012 and this publication with its additional areas of focus and comparison, underlines our dedication to being transparent with respect to these issues, and to holding ourselves accountable for the manner in which we conduct our business.”
Furthermore, Gegenheimer noted the company’s focus on narrowing the digital divide by expansion of the network to offer telecommunication services to rural and marginalized segments in various countries where Zain operates, and enhancing the livelihoods of many, especially the youth, with a focus in areas of conflict. He noted the company’s several initiatives, and focus on establishing training centers for telecommunications, sponsoring student contests on technology, and an e-learning scholarship programs are only a few of the initiatives Zain is undergoing to support the narrowing of the digital divide and improving the livelihoods of many.
As an example, Gegenheimer noted community and educational youth programs currently in place in South Sudan, including a partnership with Peace Earth Foundation, UNESCO and Ericsson to support the Youth Peace Network initiative by providing mobile connectivity in the state of Jonglei. The program aims at providing young community leaders with negotiation and conflict resolution skills through the use of ICT, thus narrowing the digital divide.
Another significant community initiative Zain has undertaken in South Sudan is the partnership with the Vodafone Foundation Instant Network, to extend mobile telecommunication coverage to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) refugee camp at Yida, Unity State, which supports aid workers’ efforts to undertake life-saving work easing the plight of more than 70,000 Sudanese refugees. The connectivity will enhance better coordination of food and medical supplies amongst other critical communication tasks undertaken by UNHCR. It also allows refugees to contact their loved ones for free, and in the future, there are plans to install telecommunication services that will provide thousands of children living in refugee camps with access to life-changing educational programs, which cannot be delivered through any other means.