By Hazem Metwally

I remember a time when the word “sustainable” was only used in meetings to do with our corporate social responsibility (CSR) and philanthropic efforts… it has far evolved. Today, it has become part of our focus area and even scorecard, making it everybody’s everyday job. Integrating people, planet and prosperity with our organization’s strategic goal delivers alignment up and down and across on impact-driven initiatives, stakeholder engagement and accountability.

For a while now, we have been seeing progress in environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices as we all explore ways to link to purpose - driven work for both employee engagement and business competitive advantage.

At Etisalat Group, we strive to operate responsibly and transparently by living our inspiration of ‘Together Matters” and “Together Towards a Sustainable Future”. In 2021, we celebrated Egypt and the United Arab Emirates winning the bids to host the UN Climate Change Conference 2022 and 2023 (UNFCCC COP 27 and 28) respectively.

Since its inception, Etisalat has been channeling its efforts into transforming our infrastructure into the best in the world; leading not only in terms of quality and speed but also contributing to reduced energy consumption and waste. From embracing the urgent climate action agenda, to implementing small scale or company - wide initiatives, the public and private sectors are dedicating real time on their agendas to building back better in the post-pandemic recovery roadmap.

The conversation is happening; and we’re all in on it

Egypt has already made strides in paving the way for a more cohesive and sustainable future; through adopting an inclusive post-pandemic recovery and by translating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national development strategies through country-led initiatives.

For our part at Etisalat Misr, I am proud to say that we are committed to contributing to the Government of Egypt’s sustainability agenda; in line with the national and global 2030 targets. It is part of our company’s mission, DNA and strategy to put forth initiatives that achieve support in progress towards good health, equity and creating resilient communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

In 2019 and 2020, Etisalat Misr adopted various in-house projects such as, replacing the conventional lighting with LED lighting which achieved 19% saving in electrical consumption and 15% saving of electricity in retail shops. Currently, we’re also working on rationalizing energy consumption by installing occupancy sensors for controlling data centers’ light, so that the light switches off at times where there is no staff inside; and by reducing the number of base stations powered by diesel and replacing them with renewable energy and hybrid alternatives.

While the past two years have served as a double-edged sword, unveiling the pros and cons of different work-life models, we’ve realized that reducing office presence in our premises and buildings led to reductions in electricity usage, and water and paper consumption by 36% and 60% respectively. From this, we learn the importance of waste management and thinking twice before we print any piece of paper. We’re also enhancing the BMS system to control ACs and lighting in parallel through decreased power consumption and solar and hybrid rectification.

Moving in the Right Direction Forward

One of my personal favorite initiatives has to have been our work with Very Nile to help clean Egypt’s gem, our Nile River. This project is part of Etisalat Misr CSR initiatives that aims to encourage our employees to clean the Nile, to empower the fishermen by rehabilitating their boats, and to support the women at Qursaya island economically by buying their recyclable, artisan products.

During our field visit, I was inspired by witnessing the great responsible work that some of us are doing silently without much fuss. I learnt how little behaviors that we usually do, can turn into big problems. The plastics disposed in the Nile pollute our artery of life and then find their way into the Mediterranean Sea affecting nature in one of the most beautiful seas in the world.

In that same vein, underpinning health and technology within corporate social impact is key to targeting sustainable growth, to build a secure, digital and healthy world, while fostering innovation to ensure the improvement of lives, linking the sector to the most recent development in technology, communication and digital solutions.

Working towards improving the health care sector, we tap on our long and short-term development projects and programs, developing the capabilities of children, youth, women, and people with disabilities, to make the best use out of technology, for an enhanced livelihood; centered around better health and well-being, aligned with the global goals; namely SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being; SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; SDG 10: Reduced Inequality; SDG 13: Climate Action; and SDG 17: Partnerships to Achieve Goals.

For instance, Etisalat Misr has managed to provide Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population with IOT services, lines and connectivity for its 2,000 primary health units and its blood donation campaign, because today, we are on a brink of a technological revolution; transforming how we live, work, and co-exist. And as a nation, we have the best minds, coupled with advanced technologies at hand to serve humanity.

Empowering women is critical for our people and economy

Two years and nine months ago, an incredible woman joined our C-Suite team, leading the most important aspect of our organization - the people. She plays a role, far beyond a scope, bringing her competency as well as her female energy to nurture the whole organization, coaching us in our everyday decisions and creating a role model for others. While there is still a lot of work to be done in reaching gender parity, we’re embracing gender smart policies to enable and empower more women in the workforce and in leadership positions. For a woman, it takes a lot of self-confidence, overcoming doubts and a supportive environment; which we should all encourage it for its macro-critical importance.

At Etisalat Group; we’ve introduced safe working conditions, capacity building, equal payment and labor rights as well as leveraging our partnerships to scale innovative and affordable medical solutions to secure our female staff’s wellbeing.

We’re all in this together, and it will take all of us working together to address all types of issues and creating better, healthier communities. All the conversations, progress, and reporting is an indication that the ’S’ will follow in the path of the ‘E’ in ESG, garnering more attention in the future from all of us in the private sector, and governments alike.

It’s due time to take care of our people and homes.

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