BLOEMFONTEIN - Vodacom Central Region, covering the Free State and Northern Cape provinces, has switched on two new 3G and 4G enabled base station sites in deep rural areas in Kamiesberg Local Municipality, Northern Cape province. The two base stations were deployed in Kamasies and Rooifontein villages that had been without network connectivity since the early 1990s. The latest move is significant for scores of households in Kamasies and Rooifontein villages as these will be the very first base station sites to be deployed in these villages, ushering in a new era of digital inclusion for the people living in the area.
The Kamiesberg Local Municipality is a Category B municipality situated within the Namakwa District in the Northern Cape Province. It is one of the smaller municipalities of the six that make up the district. Kamiesberg Local Municipality provides services to 16 small towns – Kamassies Rooifontein, Nourivier, Leliefontein, Paulshoek, Kamieskroon, Kharkams, Tweervier, Koiingnaas, Kheis, Soebatsfontein, Spoegrivier, Klipfontein,Garies, Hondeklipbaai and Lepelfontein. The nearest business centre is Springbok 120km away. Residents of the two villages used to travel 60KM to the nearest town to make calls.
The new sites are part of Vodacom's Rural Coverage Acceleration Programme, aimed at expanding network coverage for people who live in deep rural areas of South Africa to supplement the good work that Vodacom regions have done in ramping up network infrastructure outside of urban areas over many years.
Evah Mthimunye, Managing Executive for Vodacom Central Region says: "It can no longer be acceptable for people in deep rural areas to watch the internet revolution from the sidelines, they need to be active participants and reap the associated economic benefits. The network expansion will drive the advancement of economic and social conditions in the communities in which we operate. We mean serious business when we say that deep rural and township areas should have the same network experience such as the people who reside in urban areas are accustomed to. Critically, the two base stations we have deployed in these two villages talk to our purpose which is to connect for a better future."
Rufus Beukes, Municipal Manager for Kamiesberg Municipality says: "On behalf of the municipality, I would like to express our gratitude to Vodacom for the construction of cellphone network in Kamasies and Rooifontein. This deployment has ensured that Kamiesberg Municipality could effectively communicate with these two villages regarding service delivery and has enabled the residents of the two areas to communicate with the outside world using the latest and fast mobile networks."
The region has spent over R207 million to maintain and upgrade network infrastructure across the province during the 2020/21 financial period. A total of 40 new sites were deployed during the 2020/21 financial year, the bulk of which were rolled out in deep rural areas to ensure that people in underserved parts of the country can be a part of the Internet Age and reap the economic and social benefits.
Vodacom's commitment to accelerate network coverage for people who live in deep rural areas has already yielded a positive societal impact. Within months of Vodacom having deployed new 3G sites, most of these communities are now part of the internet revolution underway. As a result, school-going kids can now access the internet for the first time, whilst those who are actively looking for jobs are using their smartphones to apply for jobs over the internet. They have the option of using Vodacom's e-School and jobs portals that are both zero-rated for Vodacom subscribers. Those who previously had to travel long distances to do banking are doing this on their devices from the comfort of their homes.
There is a proven link between increased internet access and economic growth, so by providing connectivity in rural areas of our country, we are playing a crucial role in driving South Africa's economy.The World Bank study concludes that a 10 percentage point increase in fixed broadband penetration could increase Gross Domestic Product growth by 1.21% in developed economies and 1.38% in developing ones.
"Providing network connectivity for people who reside in rural areas is a high priority for Vodacom and is part of our vision to make sure that we connect everyone no matter where they live. We have committed to a substantial investment to help remove barriers so that citizens in rural and township areas have the same network experience as those who reside in urban areas," concluded Mthimunye.