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VODACOM Helping Africa to communicate for the past two decades


odacom Group (Pty) Limited (Vodacom) is a leadingAfrican mobile communication company providing a wide range of communication services.

Established in South Africa in 1994, the company has grown its mobile network business to include operations in Tanzania, DRC, Mozambique and Lesotho. The mobile networks cover a total population of approximately 200 million people. Vodacom generates revenue by providing communications services over mobile and fixed line networks. These services include voice, messaging, data and more recently, enterprise, content and mobile financial services.

CONTINENTAL OPERATIONS Vodacom is majority owned by Vodafone (65% holding) one of the world’s largest mobile communications companies by revenue. The company is listed on the JSE with its head office in Midrand, South Africa. Vodacom has more than 57.5 million customers including enterprise customers, which include large corporates, small and medium enterprises and public entities. Through its subsidiary, Vodacom Business Africa (VBA), the company also offers business managed services to enterprises in over 40 countries across the continent. VBA’s pan-African multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) network

allows enterprise clients to operate dedicated networks across multiple countries.

Vodacom reaches customers and delivers services to them through distribution channels, building and maintain mutually beneficial, longstanding relationships based on ethical business principles, with wholesale distributors, retailers and franchise store business partners.

A HISTORY OF SUCCESS Since its inception, Vodacom has been at the forefront of developments and innovations in the mobile network industry - from launching the world’s first prepaid service on Intelligent Network platforms in 1996 to becoming the first operator to launch LTE (or 4G) services in South Africa two years ago. Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Maya Makanjee, says key to this is continual investment. “Our role in democratising access to voice and data has been underpinned by consistent investment in our networks – to the tune of around R30 billion over the last three years – which we plan to accelerate over the next three years,” states Makanjee.

“This investment has been focused not only on extending our network infrastructure but also on keeping up with the latest technologies. Together these enable us to increase capacity and lower prices while simultaneously improving quality, and to provide the services that make a real difference in the lives of our customers.”

IMPROVING NETWORKS Vodacom is focused on this continual investment despite the tough economic and competitive environment. Total expenditure for the last financial year was over R10 billion.

“In South Africa, we spent R6.9 billion on our network, directed mostly at expanding our 3G coverage. We added more than 1,000 new 3G sites, and our 3G network now covers 91.9% of the population. We also continued our LTE roll out in South Africa to just short of 1,000 sites,” adds Makanjee. “Similarly, in our International operations we continued to expand the coverage and capacity of our voice and data networks. Network investment is the foundation of our strategy, enabling us to differentiate the customer experience and reduce the cost to communicate. “At the same time, we’re building network capacity and flexibility for the future, in the face of the tremendous growth in data and an ever-changing telecommunications environment.” The company has managed to inject this level of investment despite the tough economic climate, which is “We strive to build and maintain high-quality networks in all our operations, as the foundation for reliable voice and data services,” Maya Makanjee, Chief Corporate Affairs OfficeR

testament to its unwavering objective to deliver quality services across all markets. “We strive to build and maintain highquality networks in all our operations, as the foundation for reliable voice and data services. Ongoing investment in broadening our reach and in maintaining and improving our networks is critical to our viability and competitiveness,” says Makanjee.

SOCIAL AGENDA Throughout its 20 year history, Vodacom has been committed to enriching and funding social schemes.

In the last three years alone, Vodacom has contributed R338 million in community programmes that include education, health, security and women’s empowerment, underlining its focus on improving the lives of Africa’s people. In South Africa, the company has built 893 fully connected school computer centres which incorporate connectivity as well as computers and tablets, and maintenance to help ensure the next generation’s education can benefit from modern technology. In addition, it also has 40 ICT centres across the country managed in partnership with the Department of Basic Education that assist teachers to improve the standard of education. “Our health projects, particularly in our International markets, are revolutionary and are enabling better health outcomes especially in rural areas. Similarly in safety, our Alert Rouge programme for the victims of war in the east of the DRC is making

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a difference to people’s lives in this very difficult part of the world,” says Makanjee.

INVESTMENT IN PEOPLE Vodacom employs 7,225 members of staff and is acutely aware that the success of the company is down to the hard work and talent of its employees. That’s why Vodacom does its upmost to attract and retain talented people, with reward and benefits schemes for current employees such as pension funds,health schemes and opportunities for growth.

“We work on attracting new skills, especially in areas that are key to future sustainability of our business such as financial services and data,” says Makanjee. “Recently, we have recruited leading specialists in the areas of fast-moving

consumer goods, financial services, e-Commerce and business managed services, which is enabling us to be more proactive in identifying new opportunities for customer acquisition.

“One of the most important ways in which we invest in our people is through our talent programmes. We manage talent through our Performance Dialogue programme, which involves monitoring performance against yearly goals and setting training and development objectives.”

GLOBAL EXPERIENCE There are currently five Vodacom employees on assignment at Vodafone in the Netherlands, Ireland, Albania and the UK. Allowing staff the opportunity to learn about international markets is important to the company.

“We also use shorter exchange programmes (up to three months)

to increase international exposure, particularly for middle management, with a particular focus on women,” comments Makanjee.

reduce carbon emissions across the company. This is an improvement on its 2012 score of 88%.”

“We also focus on building our talent pipeline. We recruited 30 new participants for our 2014 external bursary scheme primarily in the fields of electronic engineering (50%), IT (40%) and commerce (10%), which is aligned to our future business needs. We have 110 bursary students at various stages of their studies on the scheme at a cost of R10.2 million.”

“As an operator and investor in Africa, we have embraced the responsibility to contribute to the socioeconomic development of the communities that have contributed to our success.

“This year we sent eight candidates to the following countries: South Africa, Lesotho, Nigeria, Tanzania, DRC and the UK. We aim to send out 24 in the 2015 financial year.



Looking forward, Vodacom’s principles will remain the same and the company will continue to invest in technology and people to ensure it is delivering the very best services to its hundreds of millions of customer.

“We will continue to work on increasing access to communications and through this bring people into the mainstream of the economy,” adds Makanjee.


Vodacom has an environmental strategy that helps it achieve its core environmental objectives by focusing on five priority areas: leadership and culture; waste; carbon footprint; fuel management; and bio-diversity. The company has continued to ensure compliance with the ISO 14001 system, on which it successfully obtained recertification during the year.

Vodacom Group was also included in the Global 500 report for the second time in two years. “We are the top performing telecoms company in the South African CDP in the four years of its participation,” Makanjee says.

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For enquiries email okm@aubusinesscoverage.com

African Business Coverage Issue 9