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JOHANNESBURG – In 2017, Vodacom in collaboration with the South African Police Service set out to build a base station in the remote town of Noenieput in the Northern Cape. This initiative would not only bring connectivity to improve emergency services but the lives of the town's residents and its broader community.
Noenieput is a small town in the Kalahari Desert. The town is located approximately 14 kilometres from the Namibian border and 170km from nearest main town Upington. Five years later, Vodacom went back to Nonieput to speak to the community to find out how the technology has impacted their lives, please watch the short connectivity video: https://youtu.be/l3tQOpPz5OY
"Network connectivity is a vital part of everyday life, but many in remote areas remain excluded from its benefits. As part of our commitment to connecting everyone to a better future, we are implementing measures to extend our coverage into deep rural areas and accelerate digital inclusion. In this case, our focus was helping the residents of Noenieput and local police connect more easily, enhancing the polic's ability to serve the local community and make a positive impact," says Evah Mthimunye, Managing Executive of Vodacom Central Region.
Although Noenieput is only home to 151 residents, the town's police station services a widespread farming community. Before 2017, the town had very limited network connectivity, largely relying on a small patch of dune 7km away for mobile phone reception. This posed a serious challenge for local police in providing adequate service delivery.
One of the greatest challenges in rolling out the network infrastructure build was laying down electricity in an extremely remote location to keep the base station live. The site is powered with Solar Energy, which Vodacom have used to resolve the power issue due to the complexity that the sites posed due to the distance and infrastructure requirements.
Five years later, with Vodacom's support and the base station built, Noenieput's police have been able to significantly improve their response times and are far better able to serve their local communities.
On top of that, the residents of Noenieput have been able to join the digital age and reap the benefits of connectivity. Communicating with family and friends far away is now significantly easier, bringing them closer to loved ones. Many have also enjoyed discovering applications such as Facebook and Twitter, and gaining access to convenient and affordable channels of communication, such as WhatsApp.
There is a proven link between increased internet access and economic growth, so by providing connectivity in deep rural areas of the country, Vodacom is playing a crucial role in driving South Africa's economy. While this project has offered the residents of Noenieput the opportunity to overcome the social isolation they previously experienced, it also allows farmers and small business owners to leverage digital technology for their operations.
"In the five years since this project was launched, technology has become an even greater part of daily life. Hearing from the residents how connectivity has brought opportunities for upliftment and inclusion motivates us to continue removing barriers to communicate and ensure nobody is left behind," concludes Mthimunye.