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Let’s get Africa connected

Vodafone, Vodacom and Safaricom’s pan-African connectivity, digital services and digital platforms are supporting Africa’s digital transformation.

Our ambition to expand coverage and modernise networks to bridge the digital divide aims to support rural communities and SMEs and enhance digital and financial skills. In doing so, we can ensure no one is left behind.

We recognise that network and platform capabilities are at the heart of the economic recovery, enabling businesses to innovate and transform public services so as to create a more resilient, competitive, inclusive and sustainable future for Africa.

Our policy priorities in Africa

Following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa, we have been working hard to keep citizens and businesses connected. But nearly a billion people in Africa are still being left behind. Remedying this situation is a seminal challenge of our time.

The main areas of focus are supporting broadband network coverage, Internet of Things (IoT), supporting digital financial ecosystems, fostering digital skills and literacy and contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

We are working towards delivering the following objectives:
Healthy, sustainable
market structure
Fair spectrum
assignment policies
vendor transition
Simplified and rapid
Reduced barriers to
network sharing
Pro-customer and
regulatory approach
Reduced regulatory
barriers to
cashless transactions

Meet the CEOs of Vodacom and Vodafone

Africa’s Leading Technology Provider

Building on our strong, nearly 30-year presence in and commitment to Africa, today we operate locally-rooted businesses across sub-Saharan Africa. We have worked hard to connect over 170 million Africans to a range of mobile and lifestyle services through our networks while closing the mobile gender gap for an estimated 46.2 million active female customers across the continent.

In addition, our digital solutions promote education, improve healthcare, and prepare youth for a digital society. And we are increasing access to financial services through mobile handsets, including M-Pesa, Africa’s most popular payment platform.

Policy in action: Africa’s digital future

Levelling the SME playing field

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a pivotal role in both the global and African economy, contributing to job creation, innovation, economic growth, and regional development. The World Bank reports that SMEs are responsible for more than 80% of Africa’s employment and 50% of the GDP. However, SMEs in Africa face a number of distinct challenges, which include access to finance and markets, regulatory barriers, inadequate technology adoption and limited management capabilities. To address these stumbling blocks, strides must be made to promote financial inclusion, simplify regulation, enhance technological infrastructure, and encourage innovation.

In our latest Africa.connected research paper 99% of respondents echoed this sentiment. This report is based on conversations with 400 SMEs across eight African countries (South African, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lesotho), ranging in size from 1 - 200 employees. These surveys were run in partnership with World Wide Worx, a South African market research business that focuses on trends in information technology and telecommunications and looks to better understand the specific challenges facing businesses wanting to adopt technology on the continent.

Before embarking on the research project to identify challenges and success factors among SMEs across Africa, we examined some of the best practices globally, versus in developing and emerging markets to better understand how different markets are using technology to improve their resilience and boost their contribution to the economy. The paper serves as a starting point for a far more pressing discussion around how to best support and nurture small businesses in an effort to further their success.

You can download the paper here.

Connected Education: How digital technologies can transform education in sub-Saharan Africa

Our latest Africa.connected paper unpacks the current state of education across the continent and examines how digital technologies and connectivity, combined with the necessary regulatory frameworks and support from governments can be leveraged to mitigate barriers to quality education across the continent.

Written in partnership with Professor Jonathan Jansen and supported by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the paper highlights how digital technologies and connectivity hold the key to unlocking the true potential of Africa’s young people. By opening up new opportunities for African youth to learn and for teachers to connect with students in the most remote and rural communities, these resources play an integral role in improving African education systems.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been the ultimate catalyst for digital transformation and greatly accelerated several major trends that were already well underway before the pandemic, including online learning. Democratising access to connectivity is an essential step in helping the education sector, in particular, to overcome barriers to inclusive access.

Digital Finance Platforms to Empower All: Accelerating financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa

Our latest Africa.Connected paper examined the social impact of mobile money platforms globally, and found that the average annual growth rate in per capita GDP is 1 percentage point higher in countries with successful mobile money services, and could reduce poverty by around 2.6% in those locations.

Published in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), this policy paper opens dialogue around the transformative power of financial inclusion, including as a vehicle to progress on many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Despite rapid growth in financial inclusion over the last decade, 45% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa remain financially excluded. The paper shares five policy recommendations to accelerate the positive impact of mobile financial services.

Meeting in the middle harnessing the post-covid-19 rise of digital public health engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa

This policy paper explores the many challenges and opportunities associated with digital health solutions. It also highlights the necessity of partnerships between the public and private sectors in driving critical outcomes. There is the opportunity to harness the rise in digital engagement and work together to ensure high quality, trusted online medical services are available to all.

Governments are accelerating digital health strategies across Africa. This, combined with increasing user engagement of digital health services via smartphones, has created a fertile opportunity to deliver health digitally, at scale, via a combination of formal and informal services.

Now is the moment for governments to capitalise on this and work in partnership with the private sector to meet in the middle and use formal and informal platforms to digitalise services and improve health outcomes across Africa.

A lifeline, not a luxury: Accelerating 4G access in Sub-Saharan Africa

This policy paper explores the divide between those connected to rudimentary services through 2G to those who have access to the breadth of the internet offered by 4G.

The report suggests a multi-stakeholder approach with four key steps to enhancing digital inclusion across African nations, where the mobile usage gap is the largest in the world:

  • Make 4G enabled devices more accessible
  • Invest in the demand for 4G services
  • Provide targeted financing to lower connectivity costs for vulnerable groups
  • Boost 4G adoption by refarming 2G spectrum

Towards a Connected Climate - Leveraging digital technologies to break the cycle of food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa

This policy paper, published together with United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), unpacks three of the major stumbling blocks preventing African countries from improving agri-food systems and shows that only if we address issues around access to information and financial resources, improve overall farm efficiency and market access, and ensure equitable digital resources, we can unlock the potential of Africa’s agriculture.

The goal of feeding Africa’s growing population, conserving its natural resources, and building resilience against market and climate changes requires a renewed focus on increasing productivity across existing farmlands. This is where digital technologies, especially mobile-based solutions, can help. While these solutions do not serve as a silver bullet to solve Africa’s complex and multi-faceted food security concerns, tech can provide farmers with accurate information and real-time data so that they can farm more effectively and, in doing so, increase the yield on their existing land for the benefit of all.

Thought leadership

How 5G technology could shape Africa’s future

Mobile technology is the primary, and often only, platform to access the internet in developing countries, accounting for 87% of broadband connections in these regions. The impact of mobile technology is likely to be even more profound in the future, with 5G expected to have an even greater societal levelling effect than its predecessors.

How telcos can deliver digital services to SA’s unbanked and underbanked

Financial inclusion is a right, not a privilege. Despite great progress made to broaden financial inclusion in South Africa, the promise and potential of financial inclusion to reduce poverty and boost prosperity in South Africa remains unfulfilled. That is why Vodacom Financial Services is developing solutions that foster financial inclusion and economic growth while creating meaningful opportunities for all.

Five ways mobile technology is transforming online learning

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for online learning, with UNESCO reporting that one and a half billon students around the world were engaged in remote learning due to school closures in March 2020.

Unfortunately, in South Africa, not everyone has access to a laptop or PC to use as a remote learning device, but 78% of young people under 25 have the use of a mobile phone. As an enabling, empowering and engaging educational tool, mobile telephony has a key transformative role to play in online learning.

Why women are key to Africa's digital transformation

The digital gender divide in Sub-Saharan Africa means only around 25% of women have access to connectivity, according to the World Economic Forum. Connecting these women to the digital economy is critical to drive further economic growth and innovation on the continent.