Sustainable Development Goals an Opportunity for Kenya’s Private Sector: Safaricom

Kenya’s private sector must act now and step up its contribution and support for the Sustainable Development Goals if it has to close the gap by 2030, Safaricom said in its 10th Sustainable Business Report.

Head of Sustainable Business and Social Impact, Safaricom PLC, Karen Basiye sharing the overview of the 2021 Sustainable Business Report during its launch at MJC.

Kenya’s private sector must act now and step up its contribution and support for the Sustainable Development Goals if it has to close the gap by 2030, Safaricom said in its 10th Sustainable Business Report.

The 10th Sustainable Business Report highlights Safaricom’s efforts to achieve its purpose of transforming lives by transparently showing its successes, setbacks, and future focus areas critical to the business and stakeholders.

The report themed ‘‘Standing Together Going Beyond’, also reveal how the telco through its Safaricom Sustainable Future Series aims to inspire more business leaders to embark on the bold leadership needed to re-ignite the crucial private sector role in the achievement of the targets set under the 2030 Agenda.

The Safaricom Sustainable Future Series is a thought leadership platform launched in 2020. It seeks to convene business leaders to discuss and identify solutions for the various sustainability challenges facing our society and establish ways of accelerating the private sector’s contribution to the SDGs.

“Adoption of the SDGs has enabled us to become a more sustainable company, creating meaningful impact on communities that we serve,” Peter Ndegwa, Chief Executive Officer Safaricom Plc says.

In the report, Safaricom injected KSh 664 billion approximately ten times greater than its financial profit made during the year. The company says sustained over 190 273 direct and indirect jobs.

“Our latest True Value Report indicates that the true value to Kenyan society created by Safaricom (the cumulative outcome of the economic, social and environmental impacts highlighted on the True earnings bridge) increased by 1.5 per cent from FY20 to FY21, and we contributed a total of 5.2 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country,” Safaricom notes on its True Value.

 

Safaricom has integrated 9 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its core business strategy, including goals on Health (SDG3), Education (SDG4), Clean Energy (SDG7), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG8) and others.

Three of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals deal expressly with inequality: Goal 1, the eradication of extreme poverty; Goal 5, gender equality; and Goal 10, reducing all forms of inequality.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm began integrating the SDGs into its business strategy in 2016.

Mr Ndegwa says in their new strategy they will play a key role in driving healthcare inclusion and enabling smallholder farmers to become wealthier and commercially sustainable.

“We remain focused on our sustainability agenda on key issues such as addressing our climate impacts and building an inclusive business that not only meets the needs of our customers but also reflects the diverse nature of our society,” he adds.

I urge other business leaders, both large and small, to join us in committing to play a role in bringing sustainability to the forefront and achieving the SDGs because; together we can be stronger; together we can achieve more, and together we can Go Beyond. – Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom CEO.

Managing And Mitigating Our Environmental Impact

As Safaricom aspires to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services by 2030 and in addition to increasing its share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, it says it made “some progress”. 

“This is an ambitious goal,” said Steve Chege, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer – Safaricom Plc said during the report launch adding that “It is an ambitious goal, but one that is forcing us to think more creatively about how we can achieve it while still supporting network growth.”

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on 1.5°C warned that global emissions must drop to net-zero by 2050.

This is by establishing climate-related targets and developing mitigation actions linked to inequalities exacerbated by climate change in the areas of resilience, health and a just transition.

For instance, to achieve its target to be a net-zero company by the year 2050, it introduced science-based carbon reduction targets which were reflected in its FY20.

“During the period under review, our focus was on reducing Scope 1 emissions, particularly those related to fuel usage for energy generation in our operations as this forms the most substantial part of our emissions,” it reveals in the report.

 

Missed Targets

Unfortunately, telco did not achieve scope 1 and 2 emission reduction targets for FY21, with overall carbon emissions increasing by 2.3% year-on-year and Scope 1 emissions increasing by 10% over the same period. 

This was mainly due to the increased use of diesel in-network generators because of the frequent power outages experienced during the year. 

“We missed our overall target by 14% for the period,” it said adding that, emissions from electricity used reduced marginally by 2% despite ts network expansion attributed to power efficiency improvements implemented across the network in 2020.

The telco targets a reduction in energy costs by 10% per annum.

Scope 3 travel-related emissions reduced significantly by 33%, due to reduced travel by staff during the year as a result of the COVID-19 travel restrictions it says.

“We plan to optimise energy efficiency as a strategy for achieving our emission reduction targets.”

Kenya continues to lose about 12,000 hectares of forests each year through deforestation. Accordingly, the 12% of the land area originally covered by closed-canopy forests is dwindling fast.
Safaricom participating in a tree planting exercise in Ngong Forest with the Kenya Defence Forces.

Carbon offset

On the other hand, it has planted over 650 000 seedlings planted in over 650 hectares in three key sites in Kieni, Marmanet and Nandi forests under its carbon offset tree growing initiative. 

This is part of Safaricom’s commitment to grow 5 million trees in five years “which we estimate will offset 26% of our emissions,” the Sustainable report reads.

It has also transitioned 255 (5%) of its sites to renewable and hybrid energy sources –up from 217 (4%) in FY20, with 1 299 (23.5%) connected to the national grid so far.

However, during the report, Safaricom says its overall negative environmental impact on the Safaricom True Earnings decreased by 3% from FY20 as a result of reduced water consumption. 

It reports 43% reduction in water consumption which was largely attributable to the significant number of staff working from home during the period. 

“Overall carbon emissions increased slightly during the period (by 2%) and there was an increase in the Social Cost of Carbon within the FY21 reporting period which largely offset the impact of the decrease in water consumption.”

The 10th annual report, whose theme is “Standing Together; Going Beyond”, seeks to illustrate how Safaricom is using a sustainable business model to address society’s needs and goes beyond the company’s financial performance to give a more intimate and accurate description of its business.

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