Vodacom South Africa has invested about R100 million ($7.4 million) over three financial years for the deployment of 84 base stations in the KwaZulu-Natal region to boost mobile connectivity and drive digital inclusion for all in remote areas.
The Vodacom base stations were rolled out in 9 District municipalities and 14 Local municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal as part of the telco’s Rural Coverage Acceleration Programme, aimed at expanding network coverage for people who live in deep rural areas of South Africa.
“In a bid to ensure the widest and first-class network that is accessible to all South Africans, we made a deliberate decision to invest in the region and are making great progress so that we leave no one behind,” said Ishmael Mathinya, Executive Head for Operations in Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal.
“The R100m ($7.4 million) investment in deep rural areas has enabled us to further expand our 3G and 4G network coverage, increase data speed, and help reduce our dropped-call rate. Critically, with these new base station sites, we have connected previously unconnected areas enabling scores of people to use innovative digital services in their daily lives that will empower themselves in a Digital Age,” added Mathinya.
Vodacom’s acceleration of network coverage for people who live in deep rural areas has yielded significant positive societal impact. Within months of the telco having deployed new 3G and 4G sites, school children were able to surf the internet for the first time whilst those who are actively looking for jobs are using their smartphones so that they can apply for jobs online.
Vodacom subscribers can now also conduct banking on their devices from the comfort of their homes as opposed to travelling long distances to get to bank branches..
A World Bank study concluded that a 10-percentage point increase in fixed broadband penetration could increase GDP growth by 1.21% in developed economies and 1.38% in developing ones.
Vodacom says the new investment is going to bolster the local economic development including empowering SMMEs as well as benefiting over 80 communities.
It will also help bridge the digital divide, foster digitalisation in the rural communities and address the crime challenges.