Tag: rural

Source: Business Insider SA

Vodacom has invested R100 million in its Rural Coverage Acceleration Programme.

This has brought mobile network coverage to remote regions in South Africa, with 82 cell phone towers deployed in KwaZulu-Natal alone since 2018.
These base stations are strategically placed to cover rural schools, community halls, and taxi ranks.
The newfound reception is also making a dent in cross-border crimes, with better communication around Lesotho, Mozambique, and eSwatini.
For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Mobile network coverage is being brought to far-flung regions of KwaZulu-Natal as part of Vodacom’s Rural Coverage Acceleration Programme. Nearly R100 million has already been invested in 84 new base station sites, with the company targeting 95% 4G coverage in the province by the end of 2022.

South Africa’s biggest mobile network provider is on a mission to cover the most remote regions of KwaZulu-Natal over a three-year period. The programme has already benefited nine district municipalities and 14 local municipalities which previously had no mobile network connectivity.

The programme was introduced in 2018 with the aim of connecting “villages which have never experienced the various economic and societal benefits of cell phone connectivity.” The rollout began with the installation of 2G/3G capable sites in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga. These base stations were quickly upgraded to 4G, with faster and more reliable coverage expanding into KwaZulu-Natal.

“The majority of the sites were allocated to small black-owned businesses to build,” noted Vodacom in detailing its rural programme and the inclusion of small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMME).

“Vodacom is empowering these companies to become mobile tower operators, whereby they will build the sites and Vodacom will lease them back in return.”

Remote regions which have recently been connected to Vodacom’s mobile coverage network include the uMhlabuyalingana local municipality, in the northern most part of KwaZulu-Natal which borders Mozambique, and Mandeni, between Richard’s Bay and Durban.

Vodacom is deploying a further 29 towers to 14 municipalities within the next year, with a specific focus on covering rural schools, community halls, and taxi ranks. This includes extending the network to rural areas within the uPhongolo municipality, which borders eSwatini, and Okhahlamba in the Drakensberg mountains which borders Lesotho.

Pupils in rural schools near Kwamshudu, Sithembile, and Mathulini have, for the first time, been able to connect to the internet via their smartphones. In addition to creating new educational opportunities, the coverage is also assisting job hunters who can now access listings and correspond with potential employers on their mobile phones.

It’s also introduced the ease of mobile banking, reducing the need for residents to travel long distances from rural settlements into town.

Extending mobile network coverage to remote areas also aids crimefighting operations, according to Vodacom. Community Service Centres are now able to communicate more effectively, especially with regards to cross-border crimes around eSwatini, Mozambique, and Lesotho.

 

Virtual Teacher platform launched in SA

Vodacom and the Eastern Cape Department of Education have launched ‘Virtual Teacher’, a platform that allows teachers to deliver lessons to multiple remote classes. The move follows Vodacom’s Programme for Mobile Devices introduced in the province earlier this year to promote the use of digital technology in Eastern Cape schools.

Virtual Teacher enables teachers or lecturers to deliver lessons through a range of smart devices, learners can join classes from anywhere and at any time. For the first time in South Africa, the technology can be accessed from any personal device.

The platform is supported by portable hardware which delivers high-quality visuals and sound. It can also accommodate unlimited viewer numbers. The technology enables live interaction with the remote audience through a texting Q & A facility for written responses during the lesson.

Vuyani Jarana, Chief Officer at Vodacom Business, says: “Vodacom is working with the Eastern Cape Department of Education to address some of the challenges facing our education system, particularly in rural and underperforming schools. This is all about bringing innovative technology to those who need it most in order to improve learning outcomes for all education segments in our country. The future of the South African education system is digital and we must embrace the opportunities this offers to leapfrog infrastructural backlogs and legacy issues in our schools.”

In order to improve the matric pass rate in the province, the Eastern Cape Department of Education will use the Virtual Teacher platform to provide extra classes to students at selected districts in the province. Lessons will be delivered remotely by some of the country’s best teachers, with an emphasis on Mathematics, Science and Accounting. Students from various locations will be transported to teaching sites in the Eastern Cape, including Mdantsane, Maluti, Lusikisiki and Mt Frere.

The Eastern Cape Department of Education’s Superintendent General, Themba Kojana, says: “The Eastern Cape Department of Education is promoting interactive virtual teaching and learning in the province, particularly in rural communities. Technology such as the Virtual Teacher platform allows teachers to interact with remote learners to increase their understanding of school subject material, with a goal to improve learning outcomes in the province.”

The Virtual Teacher platform encompasses a camera, microphone and streaming unit which can be streamed from any device. Lessons can be pre-recorded if needed and recorded content can also be downloaded to any device. The platform is easy to use and can be linked to a school website. Content can also be zero rated by Vodacom if required.

By Fundisiwe Maseko for www.itnewsafrica.com

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