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MTN Group is dedicated to closing the digital gap, delivering connection and financial inclusion to its operational areas. This commitment is motivated by its firm belief that everyone deserves the advantages of a connected modern life, particularly on the African continent.

We are building the largest and most valuable business platform, with a clear focus on bringing Africa and its enterprises forward,” says Dirk Karl, Group Executive and CPO at MTN.

Karl has been CPO at MTN since 2017. He has a 25-year international career as a successful and astute procurement leader. Karl is in charge of the group’s procurement transformation plan as part of his job. He continues

Our strategy is built on three major pillars. The first is ESG, which is essential to both our business’s core strategy and the reform of our procurement process. Finally, we are focused on fostering supply chain resilience. Next, we have the “digital DNA” to push data-driven decision making, advanced analytics, and agility into procurement.

MTN is already reaping the rewards of such a strategy as an early adopter of procurement transformation, combining its supply chain and strategic sourcing into one essential aspect of its operations. “This method has already given us an important return on investment” (ROI). Being early adopters, we were able to handle the recent supply chain friction and chip shortages that created a perfect storm, according to Karl.

MTN’s use of new, agile, and iterative sourcing approaches in the procurement function was a crucial component of the group transformation. “Everyone in the function is a trained scrum master, and cross-functional teams work in agile squads and pods to promote agility. We are applying all we’ve learned from developing IT applications in the procurement department, adds Karl.

The operating model of MTN was significantly altered after using this strategy. This changes how quickly we can meet supply chain demands and complete sourcing transactions, which also affects our throughput times. As a result, “digital DNA” is essential to our change. 

Due to the new skill set needed, MTN felt it was vital to hire new employees and reorganize the workforce inside its organization. According to Karl, “It was a truly transformational endeavor, bringing data science skills into the organization, accommodating for such change, and establishing the systems and tools to overhaul sourcing and supply chain.”

One thing for certain in modern procurement and supply chains is uncertainty and disruption. “We have had no choice but to become smarter,” says Karl, “Uncertainty is a part of daily life. We still have to make decisions in the face of uncertainty, we can’t take it away, but we can better harness huge volumes of information to make data-driven decisions, which has become an integral part of our procurement and sourcing operation.”

MTN involves increasing throughput time, reducing manual, time-consuming tasks, and promoting more efficiency by employing data analytics and automation. 

In-house tools that assist our sourcing function’s adoption of data-driven decision-making platforms and supply chain risk management frameworks using cutting-edge technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence have been developed, according to Karl. Price curves within each category serve as a reference for our knowledgeable sourcing teams, and our scenario analysis technology is utilized to analyze millions of potential sourcing award situations and choose the best one for negotiation. GeSSiCa, a virtual assistant with artificial intelligence capabilities, even searches our entire ecosystem of procurement for bundling opportunities.

“We have further developed our artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to assist in eAuctions, providing data-driven vendor evaluations that allow our category managers to optimise the potential tender outcome.”

MTN has kept agility in mind while it has gone through its transformation. “In order to remain agile on the transformation journey, we have organized ourselves differently from the conventional category structure that the procurement function replicates. Instead, the MTN Group Ambition 2025 business plan is closely connected with our procurement operations. In order to be future-ready, we are accommodating the same transformation throughout the organization.

With ESG at the center of its business strategy, MTN is not only supporting ESG activities through its net-zero roadmap for 2040 and its innovations to cut emissions across Scope 1 to Scope 3, but the group is also integrating parts of a circular economy into its operations.

“With this approach, we are much more focused on the end-to-end sustainability of our business,” says Karl. “We are also focused on reusing and extending the lifetime of our assets and supplies with refurbishment and repairs, instead of producing and buying new. This sub-pillar of our ESG strategy coincides with our drive for agility.”

Karl elaborates on MTN’s sustainability strategy and describes the common value of the organization, which is to create a responsible environment through social and governance policies that are backed by supply chains and procurement. “Only healthy communities can develop; we owe it to such societies to assist in maintaining or achieving health.” 

MTN accomplishes this, in part, through its localization strategy. “We can aid in the development of local suppliers and the prosperity of societies by advancing technology. Our social and ethics committee oversees this sustainability governance to make sure we are adhering to our commitments and supplier code of conduct.

MTN Group will continue to push forward with its procurement transformation over the next 12 to 18 months, putting an emphasis on agility and its new operating model. The next 18 months will be an extremely difficult trip, according to Karl. 

“To prevent our human workforce from reverting to outdated practices, it will be crucial to concentrate on change management within the group as we launch and complete our transformation. The following 18 months will be largely focused on adapting. We’ll be examining the metrics for adapting, tool usage, machine learning adaptation, and data adaptation. 

In addition to its internal goals, MTN will focus on its partnerships with colleges and businesses over the next 12 to 18 months.

“With the university, we will be continuing to work on advanced digital procurement solutions and supply chain tools. We want to advance our control tower and nerve centre here at MTN, which combines sourcing transactions, inventories, and supply chain disruptions. We also want to ensure that our markets are getting the supplies they need on time, with early alert systems in place to further improve our intervention and prevention if disruptions occur,” explains Karl. 

“Ultimately, within the next 12 to 18 months, we want to concentrate on improving the skills and training of our workforce. In order to prepare our teams for the future and produce important business outcomes, we are offering agile coaching, agile training, and scrum certifications.



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