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Connecting Cambodia the Smart way to achieve long-term sustainability

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Hundt (first from right ) along with Smart ‘s management team at the launch of the Sustainability Report. Supplied

Connecting Cambodia the Smart way to achieve long-term sustainability

Mobile telecommunications operator, Smart Axiata Co Ltd is moving beyond rolling out latest mobile technologies in the Kingdom.

After creating a strong brand name, it is now blending sustainable growth and social responsibility to spearhead its future growth.

“Sustainable growth” has become Smart’s mantra and its concentrating far beyond short-term profits.

As large corporations re-engineer themselves to tackle perennial challenges from climate change, natural resources scarcity, pollution, gender inequality to green energy and environmental degradation — Smart has all of them prioritised on its corporate agenda.

“Sustainability is an essential part of Smart’s strategy, it continues to be central to our operations, guided by how we manage our long-term impact on the triple bottom of the economy, environment and society,” said Smart’s Chief Executive Officer Thomas Hundt at the launch of the company’s ‘Sustainability Highlights 2017’ in Phnom Penh last Friday.

During the two-hour ceremony, Smart’s senior management leaders outlined the core areas that the company focused last year — tech innovation, environment, job creation and energy saving, among others.

In Cambodia, Smart is striving to be leader in the competitive environment, where at least eight other mobile operators are aggressively vying for a slice of the market with 16 million people.

“Cambodia is a tough market, price is low and market is saturated. Ideally there should be maximum three operators. It is good for consumers, but not so good for growth,” Hundt told The Post on the sidelines of the event, but shied away from divulging growth numbers for next year.

Some key areas Smart embarked last year:

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Source: Smart

Strong numbers  

It has about eight million subscribers, $339 million was contributed to Cambodia’s national economy last year, which is 1.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, spent a staggering $1.19 billion in capital and operating expenditure to drive the development of the Kingdom’s telecommunications and ICT sectors since its inception in 2008. 

“(The) eight million customers connecting Cambodia is a big contribution to the society. We have a responsibility to ensure that our business grows together with our local stakeholders and the Cambodian community,” said Hundt. 

Gender equality

According to the Sustainability Report, Smart supported 52,554 jobs across its value chain, almost 98 percent of workers are Cambodians, and out of that 38 percent of the workforce are women.

“Ultimately it should be 50-50 across all ranks so there should be gender equality. I think in the leadership team we have some way to go although there are some heads of departments and some in senior positions in the leadership team,” said Hundt.

Tapping solar power  

The company focuses on green energy to reduce carbon print and to ensure the company’s activities are more environmentally friendly.

About 100 of its base stations are powered by solar energy. 

“Solar panels do not require generators or rely on electricity from the grid for our base stations, it is more sustainable renewable energy. In urban areas it is difficult to use solar panels but for our towers in rural areas, we try to use solar power. We have done this and continue to do this (to rely on solar),” Hundt added. It plans to build leaner and lighter structures, increase the use of renewable energy and reduce diesel consumption. 

Digital Champion by 2020

Smart is also making strong inroads towards becoming Cambodia’s Digital Champion by 2020. It was the first operator to launch 4.5G services, exploring use of a Chatbot to offer personalised and quick self-service to customers, while cyber security and protecting customers’ data are its top priorities too. 

Tech innovation

Smart supports the Asia Foundation to link up writers, illustrators and coders to develop children’s e-books and has published 16 e-books on the Lets Read! platform.It launched SmartStart: Young Innovator Program with impact Hub Phnom Penh, to encourage university students to accelerate their innovative digital business ideas.

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