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Optimism in the future of Africa’s economy is growing. Despite its geographical, environmental and political complexities the continent is evolving into a promising investment destination. But it has not always been quite so attractive to investors. And without the capital to invest, the continent’s rural and remote areas have struggled to establish significant utilities infrastructures; the basic backbone of economic prosperity.
Economies the world over are now looking eagerly to the Internet of Things (IoT) to transform business models, reimagine customer experiences and reinvent public services. The Internet of Things cannot be brought to life, however, without a robust IT infrastructure to underpin it. So while Western governments focus on repurposing and in some cases overhauling legacy IT infrastructures to seize the IoT opportunity, Africa has the agility to start afresh and establish an infrastructure robust enough to support the current and future mobile, cloud and big data needs of its population.
Africa is at a pivotal moment in its technological revolution. By quickly capitalising on its lack of legacy infrastructure, the continent has an opportunity to leapfrog Europe and Northern America to connect its people, places and things. The faster this happens, the sooner its businesses can build competitive advantage on the global stage. And the faster rural communities can reap benefit social, economic and environmental benefits.
Vodacom's African footprint
Africa is alive with possibilities, and Vodacom has embraced those wholeheartedly. From our roots in South Africa, we have grown our mobile network business to include operations in Tanzania, the DRC, Mozambique, Lesotho and Kenya, connecting 116 million customers across the continent.
Access to education
Vodacom’s Instant School portal provides free access to online learning materials to learners in Tanzania, Mozambique and the DRC. The portal integrates curriculum-aligned learning material, particularly for STEM subjects, in various formats including videos. Through the Vodacom Instant School, Vodacom Tanzania provides access to digital learning materials for 60 000 learners and teachers collectively.
The Vodacom e-School solution enables learners to access curriculum-aligned content and educators’ learning materials on an interactive platform, through their smartphones, tablets, digital boards or personal computer browser at no cost. The platform provides curriculum-aligned materials from grade R to grade 12 in almost all school subjects. To help schools and families adapt to the challenges associated with COVID-19, Vodacom increased communication and awareness to encourage the use of e-School to support ongoing education for learners on lockdown. Since the lockdown we have seen significant growth on the portal, with the number of registered users surpassing the 1 million mark, with new registrations on the platform reaching 133 005 in April and 102 246 in March, up from 25 343 in February. The five-fold increase demonstrates the real need that is being addressed by Vodacom e-School in South Africa today.
Digital solutions in agriculture
Digitising the agricultural sector provides opportunities to help increase productivity in the agriculture sector. Vodacom prioritises small-scale farmers, particularly those that require access to markets but have low productivity. Connected Farmer enables agribusiness enterprises to effectively communicate with farmers. Through this platform, enterprises can place orders in merchandise thereby improving agricultural productivity, addressing food security, and enhancing job creation in the agriculture sector. The application is currently used by various agribusinesses in South Africa, with more than 1 644 active users. In the DRC, the Connected Farmer application is referred to as AgroMwinda, and it has M-Pesa capability that makes payments effortless. Through Connected Farmer, Vodacom in the DRC has trained more than 250 female farmers in ICT skills and the use of the platform. More than 5 million farmers (500 000 are female farmers) use Connected Farmer in the DRC.
Vodacom DRC partnered with Ingenious City Platform, the DRC’s largest business incubator to support young entrepreneurs with business profitability. Vodacom provides office space, internet connectivity, the ability to render their innovations to Vodacom through a contract, facilitation of financial inclusion through M-Pesa and opportunities to be part of the Vodacom supply chain. During the year, more than 500 start-ups benefitted from this programme. Furthermore, Vodacom DRC sponsored the first digital forum organised by the Silikon Bantu, an association of young digital entrepreneurs.
Social investment to empower women
Vodacom continues to champion the fight against GBV. In South Africa, Vodacom Foundation invested over R4 million on the infrastructure set-up in 2014 and running of the national GBV Command Centre, which is managed by trained government-employed social workers to support survivors of abuse and operates 24/7. The call centre receives an alarming monthly average of 22 000 calls, demonstrating its impact in society as many victims trust and recognise it as an avenue for support and comfort. In 2016, Vodacom introduced a Skype capability for people affected by GBV in the deaf community. Since 2017, Vodacom has been empowering victims of GBV with digital literacy training. Since 2017, Vodacom has been empowering victims of GBV with digital literacy training. During the year, Vodacom spent R1.2 million to train GBV survivors on digital skills.
Brand with a purpose
To find out more about our purpose and vision throughout the African continent, visit our Brand with a Purpose homepage.