Vodacom Advances Digital Inclusion in Africa, Connecting Remote Areas by Land, Sky, and Sea

Vodacom’s initiatives span land, sky, and sea, aiming to bridge the digital divide and foster connectivity.

Vodacom Group continues to grow its pan-African customer base of 196.2 million people through finding innovative ways to keep customers connected via land, sky and sea. Earlier today, Vodacom shared highlights of its various connectivity projects, which aim to accelerate connectivity in Africa and promote digital inclusion.

Through our diverse connectivity projects, we are leveraging the latest technological developments to bring improved connectivity to the continent. Digital transformation and innovation are key to everything that we do as a company. These initiatives have the capabilities to help fast-track digitalisation in Africa and promote socio-economic upliftment.

Dejan Kastelic, Chief Technology Officer, Vodacom Group

On land, Vodacom’s Rural Coverage Acceleration Programme intends to provide even the most remote areas with reliable and fast network coverage. To date, Vodacom Group has rolled out close to 9 000 4G sites across its markets. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Mozambique, over 1 300 deep rural low-cost sites have been deployed. The programme continues to develop new ways of reducing the cost of deploying and operating rural network sites to achieve further expansion and connect even more people for a better future.

Connectivity plays a significant role in allowing those in remote areas access to transformative digital services, such as educational and financial opportunities. By increasing connectivity in underserved areas, we can help to empower communities and ensure they can participate meaningfully in the digital economy.

Dejan Kastelic, Chief Technology Officer, Vodacom Group

Already digital financial services platforms are having a marked impact on the lives of their users. Vodacom Group, including Safaricom, has 73.5 million financial services customers across eight markets, and mobile money platforms, such as M-Pesa and VodaPay continue to change lives with users, many of whom had never been part of the formal financial system and now have access to financial services. There is no doubt that the launch of M-Pesa in Ethiopia, will promote digital and financial inclusion in the country.

Supporting this ambition to connect the unconnected are satellite partnerships. Vodacom is continuing to work with Vodafone and AST SpaceMobile to develop the first space-based mobile network to connect directly to consumer 4G and 5G smartphones without specialised hardware. After a trial project, earlier this year in partnership Safaricom in Kenya, AST SpaceMobile is scaling its satellite deployments in partnership with Vodacom to provide communications to 4G devices in Africa and beyond.

In September, Vodacom announced that it plans to use Project Kuiper’s low Earth orbit (LEO) communications initiative to provide coverage in rural areas where connectivity is challenging and costly through traditional terrestrial communications solutions. More specifically, Vodacom, in collaboration with Vodafone and Amazon, plans to use Project Kuiper’s network to extend the reach of 4G and 5G services to more customers in Africa.

Satellite connectivity projects have the potential to enhance our rural connectivity plans as well as improve the stability and speed of internet services in urban areas. Our long-term goal is to investigate the applications of the Internet of Things (IoT) over non-terrestrial networks, which can serve as an industry 4.0 catalyst.

Dejan Kastelic, Chief Technology Officer, Vodacom Group

Going from the skies to the sea, Vodacom Group is part of the consortium that owns the 2Africa subsea cable, the largest fibre-optic cable project in the world, facilitating communications for over 3 billion people. The 45 000km-long cable, which interconnects Europe, Africa and Asia, provides direct international connectivity to data centres, enterprises, and wholesale customers through a 180 Tbps line. As part of its commitment to boosting digital inclusion in Africa, Vodacom is the designated landing partner for the cable at sites in Gqeberha in South Africa, as well as in Maputo and Nacala in Mozambique.

In the digital world, Vodacom has made strides in scaling its cloud offering. Forming partnerships with different hyper scalers, the technology provider has achieved a 33% increase in applications that are cloud-native and established the Cloud Centre of Excellence with Amazon Web Services to improve digital skills on the continent, with the additional mandate of reducing delivery time and cost.

Cloud is playing an integral role in the digitalisation of businesses across the globe. Combined with our involvement in the 2Africa cable project, and other strategic partnerships, we hope to continue our journey of being at the forefront of accelerating digitalisation across the continent and play our role in closing the digital divide through improved access to connectivity.

Dejan Kastelic, Chief Technology Officer, Vodacom Group

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