Vodacom has announced a partnership with Google South Africa which will see the operator give away hundreds of Android smartphones.

These smartphones will be provided to residents living in eleven remote villages across the Limpopo province.

“This forms part of Vodacom and Google’s continued efforts to reduce the digital divide and offer many who reside in deep rural communities in Limpopo province access to the Internet for the first time so they too can reap the benefits of digital transformation,” Vodacom Limpopo Region said.

“The provision of smartphones by Vodacom Limpopo Region and Google South Africa in deep rural communities where the Region has deployed 3G and 4G networks will drive digital adoption to people who need it the most,” the operator added.

Managing Executive for Vodacom Limpopo Region Imran Khan said that reaching remote communities formed part of the operator’s plan to improve the lives of its next 100 million customers by 2025.

“In our pursuit to build an inclusive and sustainable digital society, we prioritise investing in deep rural communities as this is part of our vision to make sure that we connect everyone, irrespective of where they live,” Khan stated.

Android and Platforms Partnerships for Africa Director Mariam Abdullahi Director stated that access to the opportunities the Internet offers is critical for any nations’ economic growth and social inclusion.

“Android’s goal has always been to bring the power of computing to everyone,” Abdullahi said. “We believe that this collaboration will bring more South Africans online and help them take advantage of the opportunities.”

Second phase

The second phase of the project will involve educating the people from these villages about the Internet, basic digital skills, how to use an Android smartphone, data, apps like Google Search, YouTube, Google Maps and zero-rated Vodacom platform ConnectU.

The Vodacom Limpopo region will also use this time to sign up learners to Vodacom e-School – a free, unlimited online education portal that provides educational content for learners in grades R to 12.

“Closing the digital gap in deep rural communities must start with network investment in these areas, providing tools that will enable people to access the internet, exposing them to new digital education tools, and e-government initiatives that connect citizens with services,” Khan said.

“This is a model we are pioneering in Limpopo and we know that this is going to transform people’s lives for the better,” concluded Khan.

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