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Risks, challenges and opportunities

We operate in markets that are diverse and distinctive, in terms of our customers’ needs and priorities, and the local and global issues that influence socio-economic development.


Our agenda is heavily influenced by the markets where we operate, the culture of the societies where we do business, and global issues such as climate change. How these factors interact with our business model and value chain creates a series of issues that represent impacts, risks, challenges and opportunities for our business, and we must assess, prioritize and respond to them. We use a variety of processes to identify the more material issues, as we explain more fully here.

Responding to local concerns

Our markets are diverse and distinctive. They show large variances in levels of development, prosperity, and environmental resource use. Naturally, our priorities need to be flexible and adapt to the societies and geographies where we operate. Our customers have different priorities and this must guide our efforts as much as any centrally determined criteria. Therefore, we empower local management teams to focus on programs relevant to their markets and society.

The table below illustrates the range of differences in socio-economic development as measured by the UN human development index. This illustrates the different priorities that governments, communities, businesses and our customers experience.

We operate in some markets where most people are relatively well off, and enjoy good levels of healthcare and education. Here, mobile devices and services are seen more as a ‘lifestyle’ tool. Issues in these countries are those such as privacy and freedom of expression, safety online, and honest marketing. In markets where GDP per head is low and access to basic services such as healthcare or education is an everyday challenge, mobile communication is viewed more as a ‘lifeline’. Issues here are more likely to be the reliability of coverage, and the affordability of products and services.

Impact of global issues

Some issues transcend national boundaries and present challenges which all businesses must face. Climate change will affect us all, whether through economic measures such as carbon taxes or more directly through extreme weather, floods, or sea-level rises. The World Resources Institute estimates that the number of people affected by river flooding worldwide could nearly triple in the next 15 years, driven by climate change and population growth. Bangladesh will be among the countries most affected, the impact exacerbated by rising sea levels – threatening food production, livelihoods and infrastructure – important factors for the customers of Banglalink.

People worldwide are also concerned about personal data security: whether it is governments acting for national security or companies for commercial reasons. This, and freedom to express personal, political and religious views on the Internet is an important area of international focus and creates a spotlight on our telecommunication businesses.

Structural and event-driven issues

This combination of local concerns and global trends creates a series of challenges and opportunities for our business at all stages of our value chain. Some of the issues are ‘structural’ long-term trends, while others are more short-lived or ‘event-driven'. 

Examples of some more structural issues, and the challenges and opportunities they represent, are provided in the table below. 

Where operators can generate income whilst providing services which have a high societal benefit, such as for people with disabilities, or the illiterate, the services are more likely to reach scale and be maintained. The clear evidence for this is the growth of mobile financial services.

Examples of structural issues – regional, demographic or technology trends and factors

Structural issueRisk/challengeOpportunity


56% of adults in Pakistan are illiterate, with 70% illiteracy in rural areas (UNESCO).

  • Low levels of literacy inhibit economic growth and social development in certain communities, and limit the potential for growth of mobile services, particularly data services.
  • Development of commercial services which help raise levels of literacy. 
  • Improve mobile data revenue, brand loyalty and broaden the customer base.


360 million people worldwide suffer from disabling hearing loss according to the World Health Organization. About 285 million people are visually impaired.

  • Technology can be a huge enabler for people with disabilities but can often be difficult to use, especially for people with hearing loss or visual impairment. Disability potentially excludes certain customers from our services.
  • Develop products, services and tariffs that help people with hearing loss and visual impairment to access the digital world more easily, increasing the customer base. 

Climate change

By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people will be exposed to increased water stress, and yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% in some regions (IPCC).

  • Impacts on network resilience of floods and extreme weather.
  • Impacts on customers of extreme weather, sea-level rises and economic effects.
  • Increases in hydrocarbon fuel prices impacts network running costs – particularly base stations powered by diesel generators.
  • Development of products and services, such as Machine-to-Machine (M2M) that enable customers to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Environmental efficiency.


The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) 2014 Data Protection & Breach Readiness Guide estimates that over 740 million online records were exposed in 2013, the worst year for data breaches in history.

  • Public perceptions that personal data is not ‘safe’ with a mobile service provider could lead to loss of trust in the business and sector, leading to loss of revenue.
  • Accusations that operators are complicit in human rights abuses through providing governments with access to customer data destroys public trust and leads to protest campaigns and boycotts.
  • Designing privacy considerations into products and services, policies and procedures to demonstrate leadership in data security and ethical practices.

Market Context

Market context

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