Environmental Responsibility
We understand that we have an impact on the environment and that we have a responsibility to mitigate our negative environmental impacts.

We understand the importance of sustainable business practices. We consider the effects of our activities on natural resources and the environment and try to minimise these effects. We also recognise that responsible and effective environmental management offers a host of benefits, including financial savings from reduced waste generation and efficient energy consumption, easier compliance with environmental legislation, increased staff morale and pride, and improved customer relations.

We continue to take our social and moral responsibility to manage our environmental impact very seriously. We recognise that environmental considerations are not separate from our core business, but an integral part of our overall business sustainability and success.

Our environmental responsibility is an issue that continues to grow in importance as the size of our network continues to expand and we do more than just ensure that we comply with evolving environmental regulation and legislation. We remain committed to:

  • operating in an environmentally sound and sustainable way, and
  • managing and reporting our environmental performance in an open and transparent manner.

Bio-degradable packaging

In response to our new customer-centric company strategy, we paid particular attention to ways in which we could include our customers in our environmental initiatives this year. One prominent example is our switch to using bio-degradable plastics for all of our retail packaging. Customers can now enjoy peace of mind when purchasing Safaricom products, knowing that their purchase is not contributing to the environmental hazards of conventional plastic packaging.

The use of conventional plastic packaging presents Kenya with a significant environmental challenge as there is no proper segregation during rubbish collection nor are there dedicated recycling plants or incinerators. As a result, surplus plastic pollutes and clogs up almost the entire waste system. It is often the cause of blockages in drains as well and contributes to the flooding that is now common in urban centres during heavy rains.

Safaricom packaging now uses d2w technology, which converts everyday plastic products (made from Polyethylene, Polypropylene or Polystyrene) into materials that are biodegradable in the open environment at the end of their useful life — in much the same way as a leaf, only quicker and without leaving any toxic residues or fragments of plastic.

New policy and workshop target EMF concerns

In conjunction with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), we hosted a three-day workshop on Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMFs) in November 2015. A total of 224 people attended the workshop and were trained on the environmental impact of EMFs. Delegates included NEMA staff, Safaricom field engineers and Safaricom EIA/EA consultants. The workshop is part of an ongoing agreement between Safaricom and NEMA to help equip staff, contractors and the regulator with accurate knowledge about Electromagnetic frequencies so that concerns raised by members of the public can be addressed with confidence and veracity.

As part of this initiative, we also developed an EMF Policy during the year, which was signed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bob Collymore, on 25 February 2016. The Policy outlines our commitment to ensuring that our activities pose no risk to the health and safety of our employees, contractors and the communities within which we operate. It also ensures that we comply with the latest standards and international guidelines on non-ionizing radiations and provides a mechanism through which EMF questions and grievances can be addressed.

We also revamped our EMF Booklet during the year, which is provided to interested members of the public and any communities within which we set up Base Transceiver Stations (BTS).

Reducing our energy consumption

One of the key ways in which we monitor and manage our environmental impact is through our energy (electricity, diesel and water) consumption targets.

While we are pleased to be able to report that our consumption of electricity was below our target for the year, we experienced a significant spike in both water and diesel consumption. The increase in diesel consumption is primarily the result of new sites in remote locations being deployed during the year. Very few of these remote sites are connected to the national power grid and so they need generators running 24/7 instead. Delays implementing energy saving projects and an increase in national power outages during the year also impacted diesel consumption. The rise of 9% in water consumption can be attributed to an increase in the number of staff and facilities as a result of our regionalisation programme, the acquisition of additional retail outlets during the year, and improved data collection.

Managing our emissions

The current scientific consensus is that global carbon emissions need to be reduced by 80% by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change and we are committed to being a responsible corporate citizen and visibly monitoring, reporting and reducing our carbon footprint to help meet this target. We have calculated and published our carbon footprint for the fifth time this year.

As the preceding table shows, our overall footprint has increased to 67,760 tCO2e this year, up from 61,452 tCO2e in FY15. The overall increase is a result of a significant rise in our ‘scope 1’ emissions, which is primarily a reflection of the dramatic escalation of diesel consumed in our generators and the fact that we have included fire extinguisher-related data on CO2 and FM 200 (HFC 227ea) in our fugitive emissions for the first time ; however, we have made a significant improvement in reducing our carbon intensity, considering the growth in the network footprint (12% in 2G, 30% in 3G), as well as traffic growth (approximately 15% in voice and over 100% in data). While our total carbon emissions have increased since FY15, our carbon intensity per GB of data has decreased by 48% since FY15 (2kg of CO2e per GB). We will continue to ensure our carbon intensity decreases as our network and traffic increases.

Embedding our Environmental Management System

Much of our work this year was focused on refining and embedding the systems and processes that have been put in place in the last two reporting periods.

A major milestone for us, for instance, was achieving ISO 14001 certification for our Environmental Management System (EMS) in the previous reporting period and so the focus this year was on making sure that EMS and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) programmes become part of the day-to-day operations of the company.

To achieve this goal, we initiated formal awareness and training sessions with employees and contractors, as well as distributed messages and videos through the Safaricom Daily Connect email newsletter.

The objective of the awareness sessions was to make our environmental policies and programmes relevant to employees and to explain their individual and collective roles in this regard.

In order to support our new strategic goal of operational excellence, we also worked on an integrated ISO Management System during the year. The system is designed to consolidate all of the ISO standards-based systems that Safaricom has employed — including ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), ISO 27001 (Information Security) and ISO 22301 (Business Continuity) — with the intention of ensuring we apply a common approach to all of these areas and build synergies between the various systems.

Auditing the impact of our network

As part of our monitoring and evaluation of our environmental impact, we continued to undertake Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of our infrastructural developments, such as new Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) and fi bre optic networks, and Environmental Audits (EAs) of our existing infrastructure as required by NEMA.

The hike in the number of EIAs conducted during the year, from 260 in the previous year to 463 during the period under review, reflects the increased deployment of small cell BTS sites throughout our network. Likewise, the increase in EAs conducted during the year reflects our decision to audit our older BTS sites (those built in 2008 and 2009) to measure our compliance levels.

Slow progress in water and waste management

One of our ongoing objectives is to make our facilities as environmentally friendly and efficient as possible. Last year, we commissioned an independent assessment of the water footprint and carried out an internal audit of the solid waste streams of our main facilities (Safaricom House, the Jambo Contact Centre and the Safaricom Care Centre).

Although both the assessment and audit have been completed, we have yet to set target based upon its recommendations as our data collection remains incomplete; for instance, we still need to segregate and measure waste streams.

We have made some progress, nonetheless, the water piping system was repaired to reduce water leakages and daily monitoring of water was also started (in place of monthly readings), which is helping us to understand consumption patterns and to identify abnormalities that require immediate attention. We plan to implement the recommendations of the audit and assessment in the year ahead.

Looking ahead

One of our key focuses in the year ahead will be on the implications of the new international climate agreement made at COP21 in Paris late last year. We are planning to launch several internal and external initiatives in response. Internally, we plan to develop and implement a renewable energy and climate change policy to guide our initiatives and responses. The focus will be on finding ways to further reduce our carbon footprint primarily and, externally, we will seek to partner with likeminded organisations and help to provide thought leadership and raise awareness of this important issue within the region.

Last year, Safaricom also joined several other companies associated with the B team to announce their aspiration to aim for net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050. The B team is an initiative formed by a global group of business leaders led to catalyse a better way of doing business, for the wellbeing of people and the planet. For successful implementation and ownership, we will carry out environment and energy management awareness and training across the business.