JOHANNESBURG – Vodacom, through the Vodacom Foundation, announces today that it has donated R3 million towards relief efforts, aimed at helping scores of people, who have been hard hit and displaced by the torrential rains and floods in KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape provinces.
Heavy rainfalls on Sunday, 23 April lashed in KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape, causing extensive damage in both provinces. Many people have abandoned homes destroyed by the heavy rains and flooding, while hundreds of people have been evacuated from areas such as Port St Johns, Port Shepstone, Lusikisiki, KwaMashu, Molweni and Newcastle, forcing them to find shelter in community halls, centers and churches.
The rainfalls also destroyed economic infrastructure such as roads and telecommunications infrastructure thereby leaving people destitute, many cut off from their loved ones. As part of Vodacom’s commitment to removing the barriers to access to communications, the KZN regional team was steadfast in ensuring the communication network is restored as quickly as possible to ensure that the affected people are not cut off from the rest of the world.
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer: Corporate Affairs for Vodacom Group said: “The devastation, human displacement and the loss of life and property caused by the heavy rains and flash floods in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal is a serious tragedy that cuts deep. Our R3m donation, which will be distributed evenly among the two provinces, is aimed at supplementing efforts by national and provincial governments as mopping operations have been stepped up in both provinces. The money will be used to provide food hampers, blankets, sanitary towels, bottled water, baby food and nappies for affected families. This amount is over and above our business as usual financial commitment to ensure access to communication by restoring the sites and the network.”
As a long-standing partner of the Department of Basic Education (DBE), Vodacom is committed to improving the education system of SA, using ICTs. In this regard, Vodacom will also be providing support in all the affected teacher centers in both provinces. In partnership with the DBE, Vodacom connected and maintained 92 teacher centres and over 3000 schools across the country. These teacher centres serve as ICT District hubs that ensure continuous training for teachers, learners, unemployed youth and community members.
Vodacom is committed to continuing to respond to the needs of the poor in South Africa and removing barriers to access to communication. This is demonstrated by our commitment to increasing rural coverage especially in KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape, and reducing mobile data prices to accommodate customers at the lower end of the market. For example, we recently reduced out of bundle rates by more than 70% and means that average data prices have reduced by 37% in the past year alone. But in order to continue to reduce data costs, there are obstacles that need to be addressed. The most important of these is the allocation of available spectrum.
“For Vodacom the most pressing issue in our sector is the assignment of available and in-demand spectrum. No new spectrum has been allocated since 2004 in South Africa and we’re currently experiencing an acute shortage of spectrum in the local market. The assignment of this spectrum would enable us to increase broadband coverage, especially in rural areas and thus improve the lives of households in these remote parts through access to broadband. Lack of access to spectrum is hampering our ability to drive down infrastructure costs and in turn, enable us to pass savings to the consumer,” concluded Netshitenzhe.