While about 22-million South Africans enjoy some access to the internet, the country still has a very long way to go. There are still parts of the country with very low, or no, access to internet coverage.

Vodacom has committed to helping bridge the technological divide by expanding its network as rapidly and effectively as possible.

In April 2017, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, and the Mayor of Umhlabuyalingana Municipality, Mr. Nkululeko Mthethwa, approached the mobile networks and asked them to help with the improvement of network coverage along the Mozambique border. The aim of this request was to give communities in deep rural districts access to the internet, but also to help in the fight against crime near the South African borders.

After calls by Minister Cwele, Vodacom has managed to deploy seven new 3G sites, covering 637 square kilometres in the KwaZulu-Natal region. The area is home to over 50 000 South Africans.

Since the expansion of coverage in the area, the Umhlabuyalingana Municipality area has seen a 1000% increase in data usage.

Steven Barnwell, Managing Executive for Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal commented:

“I’m very pleased with what my Zululand County team has achieved in Umhlabuyilangana. We were also able to hit two birds with one stone with this project. One, we responded to the minister and mayor’s call for the deployment of new base station sites to help locals to be able to use their phones to report criminal activities and help police curb cross-border criminal activities along the Mozambique border. Secondly, we were able to extend coverage in deep rural areas for the people of Umhlabuyalingana. It is worth mentioning that we are the only mobile network provider that responded to Minister Cwele’s plea to deploy network technology in this area.”

The new Vodacom base stations are located at: Kwamshudu Primary School, Gazini, Thelizolo, Border Post, Star Mission, Manguzi Temp and Manguzi Taxi rank. Vodacom has also confirmed that they are in the process of building three more stations.

The improved network in the area has not only seen in increase in data usage, but also in an increase in voice calls. According to a statement released by Vodacom, the company is also looking at expanding into other rural areas with their Rural Coverage Network Expansion Programme.

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