Sunil Bharti Mittal
As part of an industry that lies at the heart of economic growth and empowerment, we have always been keen to expand our welfare quotient as much as our business interests if not more. But what sets us apart, as a business entity is our steadfast commitment to balance our economic, social and environmental objectives with a highly dynamic and responsible approach over and above our relentless efforts to promote the cause of corporate governance and shareholder value creation.
With more than 350 million customers, Airtel is at the forefront of telecom revolution across 20 countries in Asia and Africa. We continue to work closely with our business partners and Governments to promote the agenda of Digital Inclusion in these markets. Innovative service offerings like those for farmers, artisans, fishermen among others to diversify and augment their incomes, and initiatives like e-Shakti that aims to spread digital literacy among women, underline our commitment to facilitate inclusion and empowerment. Airtel Money is another powerful instrument of inclusion that is gaining rapid traction in all our markets. With Airtel’s deep distribution network, Airtel Payments Bank will be uniquely positioned to make banking more accessible in India.
Customer empowerment through network upgradation and expansion remained the most defining element of our business strategy during the year. We completed one of the largest site deployment initiatives in the world, rolling out over 87,000 new sites in India. We also unveiled India’s first ‘Open Network’, thus setting a new benchmark in transparency by making all our network information including coverage, site details and signal strength available to our customers. In a first-of-its kind commitment to maintain a high standard of Quality of Service (QOS), Airtel India has committed to contribute INR 100,000 to our CSR arm Bharti Foundation for every 0.01% increase in call drop rate in a circle beyond the mandated 1.5% every month.
Concern for environment is an overriding priority for us. Search for energy efficient way of doing business and promotion of renewables in our energy mix is an integral part of our business strategy. We have progressively achieved a reduction of 72% in CO2 emission per terabyte in our network infrastructure in India over the last five years. 25% of this was achieved during the last one year alone. Under the ‘Project Green City’, launched by Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel a few years ago, over 37,000 sites have been tagged as ‘green sites’ till date. Cumulatively, Indian operations have saved over 160,000 litres of diesel at various facilities and data centres this year as compared to 2014-15.
An engaged and empowered workforce holds the key to our success. Our ‘Win with People’ strategy enables us to deliver ‘Customer Delight’ consistently to help realize our vision of enriching lives around us. Building a sense of ownership and a culture of co creation has helped us create an efficient, high performance organization.
Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, further expanded the scope of its rural education initiatives during the year taking its cumulative reach to over 1,50,000 children. Airtel Africa’s ‘Adopt-a-School’ programme too expanded its reach to cover more than 27,000 underprivileged children in the African continent. The rural sanitation initiative - the ‘Satya Bharti Abhiyan’, which started operating last year, has already delivered 12,700 rural household toilets benefitting over 63,000 users in Punjab’s Ludhiana District. The year also witnessed the launch of another remarkable program called Nyaya Bharti to extend legal and financial assistance to underprivileged undertrials and convicts languishing in Indian jails.
Airtel recently added another embellishment to its already glittering record in corporate governance, when Transparency International ranked us first among 100 Top Emerging Markets multinationals in Corporate Transparency and Reporting.
Sustainability is all about ‘moving towards a shared and harmonized future’. At Airtel, every decision we take – strategic or operational - is underlined by our belief that ‘what is good for society is also good for business’. The present Report not just highlights in detail our approach to sustainability but elaborates our achievements in this regard over the last one year.