At the heart of Helios Towers’ strategy is a determination to build a genuinely sustainable business across all its facets.
This means a business with a model sufficiently robust to grow with the needs of its customers; that treads as lightly as possible in its environments; and that meets its commitments to people, whether through being an excellent employer or acting as a sensitive neighbour in its various communities.
Our proposition to customers is itself rooted in sustainability, through the efficient use of resources. By enabling tenants to share our towers, we are concentrating multiple technologies and operations onto a single piece of infrastructure.
In turn, this will typically require only one power supply (and therefore lower emissions), and single rather than duplicated maintenance journeys to our tower locations, saving thousands of road miles a year.
For some tenants, consolidating their infrastructure in this way often means that their own towers can be taken down and recycled. For our host landscapes, a single tower also means a lesser visual impact.
Integrity is one of our core values and we comply with the law in every jurisdiction in which we operate. We also go further, by seeking to operate to international best practice wherever we can. This covers every dealing and relationship we have, but particularly in the area of safeguarding human rights.
Our Code of Conduct prohibits any form of modern slavery and child labour being employed by our businesses. We also apply the same requirements to our contractors, suppliers and partners and, more widely, require that our definitions of ethics apply across all of our supply chains. We reserve the right to check and inspect our partners’ records and processes, and we actively exercise it.
In the course of normal business operations we need to store and use personal data. This will include sensitive material such as medical histories, appraisals, salary details and other confidential information.
Helios Towers and all of our operating companies comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and any equivalent legislation in other jurisdictions. This governs the type of material we store, how we use it, how long we keep it, and the steps that we take to ensure its security.
Like any management policy, the effectiveness of anti-bribery measures needs to be continually assessed. During 2018 we therefore launched a programme to enhance our existing compliance programme. In 2019 we moved to formalise our anti-bribery measures through ISO 37001 certification.
Our systems and processes were duly assessed by BSI to ISO standards, and all required activities – including our Code of Conduct, training, employee communication – were shown to be operational and effective.
Every direct employee receives formal classroom training on what constitutes unacceptable behaviour shortly after commencing employment. Importantly, we have also given training to many of our partners; indeed, we have offered to help them gain their own certification.
We believe ISO 37001 sends an unambiguous signal to employees, suppliers, customers and investors alike about our zero-tolerance policy on bribery.
Diversity and Inclusion
We believe that our company thrives by having a workforce that mirrors the society we serve. We define workforce as permanent and temporary staff, and fixed-term contractors.
We promote diversity and inclusion, offering everyone equal opportunities to apply for jobs with us, and to advance their careers on an equal footing.
We also believe that everyone deserves respect, and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind that is based on gender, marital status, race, ethnicity, colour, nationality, disability, religion, sexual orientation or age.
Every employee receives regular reviews against their objectives, together with mid-year and end-ofyear appraisals.
We have been running regular ‘town-hall’ meetings across our business for many years, covering key business topics. In Q3 2019 we built on this by holding an all-employee ‘townhall’ conference call to announce the financial and operational performance of the quarter. This has since become a regular fixture. We bring together specific disciplines (e.g. Operational, Commercial, Finance, Legal…) from across our operating companies to exchange ideas and promote Group standards. Each business also has its own newsletters and social events.
The board has established plans to visit multiple operating companies in 2020, providing the opportunity to engage with employees and attend local stand-up meetings.
Health, Safety and Well-being
We place the safety of our people and our contractors above any other priority. To this end, in July 2019, the Company appointed a dedicated Group Head of Health, Safety, Environment and Quality.
Our principal safety risk, as for many businesses operating in Africa, is road traffic accidents. By the nature of our business, we also work at height. Our focus is to learn from experiences, collect and use data intelligently and to drive uniform Group standards and best practices.
We appreciate the needs of all our people to receive appropriate help, advice and support throughout their careers with the Group.
By the end of 2019, 45% of our staff had been trained in Lean Six Sigma, which provides essential skills and techniques to eliminate waste and drive efficiencies. Once trained, we encourage our people to manage a new project across HT, reinforcing the Lean mindset while also improving business performance.
We also understand the need to equip our leaders, both new and experienced, with the skills and capabilities to be the best they can be. And this year, with our partners MindGym, we delivered 5 days’ training for our leadership group of around 60.
We held courses in London, and at our operating companies in Ghana, Tanzania, and DRC (who were joined by colleagues from Congo Brazzaville).
The courses addressed topics such as how to manage colleagues who were formerly of equal seniority; and how experienced leaders can continue to energise and inspire their teams.
Meanwhile, for the benefit of all our employees we also invested in developing Success Factors; software that enables us to monitor regular performance reviews in real-time and gives us centralised oversight. This means that we can pick up on issues straight away and offer constructive help and input as soon as it is needed.
The very nature of our business is rooted in society.
We bring infrastructure that enables communities to connect, trade, learn, heal, discover, innovate, improve and thrive. In each of our markets, we find that communities place a high value on how mobile communications can enhance their lives and work, and they welcome our arrival.
Even so, we consult our host regions carefully about the siting and the appearance of our proposed towers and seek community as well as authority approval.
Making Positive Impacts
Our presence also creates local employment, both in the construction of new towers, their ongoing maintenance and security, and the opening up of the wider local economy that mobile access brings.
In a wider context, our towers have opened up online banking, new trading opportunities in agriculture and even authentic holiday experiences and online sales of tribal merchandise (please see a video on our website which illustrates this for a Masai tribe in Tanzania at heliostowers.com/videos).
All the services that every society needs – health, education, police and emergency response – have taken a leap forward with mobile voice and internet access.
We also continue to roll out facilities at sites where anyone can plug in their mobile for a full battery charge at no cost. This small gesture is highly popular, but we are now looking to take this a stage further: for example, through developing plans that could make a valuable contribution to our communities’ health and well-being.
As our infrastructure is used to improve and extend mobile networks, the ripple effects of social and economic benefits are tangible.
Tumba Malumba Charlotte is a rice farmer in Kingabwa, DRC. Her property is too large to be able to monitor her labourers personally, but linking everyone by mobile means that when they complete one task, they phone in for another. She can now operate much more productively.
Her smartphone also allows her to drum up rice sales by calling potential customers. And when they buy from her, they simply transfer funds by M-PESA (Swahili for ‘mobile money’) to her online account.
If a single word can reflect the effect of mobile in Africa, it is ‘opportunity’, as connectivity creates better businesses and better lives.
By bringing efficiency benefits to the mobile network operators, we are also doing the same for the environment.
Our colocation model, concentrating up to six operators’ equipment onto one of our towers, is an elegantly sustainable solution, which instantly delivers green and aesthetic synergies, compared with the traditional operator-owned model, which typically has minimal sharing infrastructure. It means surplus towers can be decommissioned and removed from the horizon. It requires only one generator or power supply, not multiple duplications and emissions.
And it means only one maintenance visit, saving thousands of road kilometres a month – while also reducing associated safety risks.
Couple this with our success in driving down our own fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and we are connecting Africa’s communities sustainably.
At the heart of our service is the ability to deliver dependable power both cost-efficiently and with due regard to the environment. For both of these reasons, we see reducing fuel consumption as one of the most critical of all measures.
In Tanzania, for example, we have therefore maximised the opportunities to connect directly to the country’s expanding grid availability which has had 1,000km oflines added recently. We have also upgraded the number of sites benefitting from hybrid solar applications by 11, and have optimised both the way our assets are configured on-site and the fuel management and control process. Between March and October 2019, these enhancements reduced fuel consumption on these sites by 26%. More tangibly, that means 364,000 fewer litres of fuel being transported and consumed - every month.
The performance of our maintenance partners is fundamental to this improvement, and fuel efficiency targets will be a central feature of contracts as they come up for renewal.