Tackling the Digital Divide in Limpopo, South Africa
Reducing the Digital Divide
Vodacom, Vodafone’s principle African brand, will enable hundreds of people in 11 villages across the Limpopo province in South Africa to access mobile services through the donation of free Android smartphones.
The initiative, a partnership between Vodacom and Google South Africa, forms part of the companies’ continued efforts to reduce the digital divide. Tackling this divide involves not just boosting network capacity but providing more affordable devices on which people can access the network.
Imran Khan, Managing Executive for Vodacom Limpopo Region said: “At Vodacom we are optimistic about how technology and connectivity can enhance the future and improve people’s lives. We prioritise investing in deep rural communities as this is part of our vision to make sure that we connect everyone, irrespective of where they live.”
The initiative aims to tackle both poverty and boost education rates in a historically impoverished province. Whilst Limpopo is famous for its stunning scenery and wildlife, it is home to the Kruger national park, the region is also one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. Economic deprivation is particularly acute in rural areas. Statistics South Africa estimated in 2017 that more than 72% of its population lived on under 992 South African Rand (about ￡48) a month.
Providing Digital Services
The partnership will enable residents to keep in contact with friends and
, relatives, access public information and services, including to support education and ; health. Access to mobile services is also critical to helping citizens to enhance their economic prospects. To ensure residents of Limpopo can make full use of the benefits of the internet, the project also includes educating people with basic digital skills. This includes how to use an Android smartphone, and how to use Google services such as YouTube and Google Maps.
Improving Access to Education
The training also introduces people to ConnectU, Vodacom’s zero-rated platform that provides essential services free of charge. For example, students can access relevant information on this platform for free, with no data costs. They can also sign up to Vodacom e-School, a free, unlimited online education portal that provides educational content for learners in grades R to 12.
Google Partnership with Safaricom
The announcement follows a similar initiative between Safaricom, Vodafone’s associate business in Kenya, and Google in April 2020. That partnership offered citizens around 1 million affordable smartphones for as little as 20 shillings a day (approximately 13p).
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