Vodacom Congo to extend coverage to Central DRC
By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo
Mobile operator Vodacom is preparing to extend its network coverage to the central regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it is set to install over 61 antennas in the remote areas of the Western Kasai and diamond-rich Eastern Kasai.
Both provinces of Kasai represent a population of about 15 million people. Vodacom currently covers 10 and 20 remote areas of Western Kasai and Eastern Kasai, respectively.
The project's aim is to improve the lives of local communities by offering them the opportunity to enjoy products and services available on the Vodacom network, the company said this week.
And it is not only any ordinary infrastructure that the company will build in these areas, the antennas are from a new generation of telecommunication technology exclusive to Vodacom Congo.
The company said the special feature of the antennas is that they were adapted to rural areas which are difficult to access.
The project also forms part of the company's long term ambition to see almost all most remote areas of this vast, ill-equipped Central African nation fully covered by its network.
The project kicked off in October 2013, and has seen more than 300 aerials already installed in various parts of the DRC, covering more than 1000 cities and villages.
Once the antennas installed and the communities connected in teh two Kasai, the company is also expected to aggressively roll-out its products, which include mobile money Vodacom M-Pesa and internet 3G.
Many Kasai natives currently living and working in the capital Kinshasa told Biztechafrica that they would be the happiest people in the world the day their villages are covered by the Vodacom network.
"Calling home is a challenge for most of us. We can't wait for that day to happen," Willy Ntumba said.
Vodacom's investment in the DRC currently stands at over US$75 million. The company has been operating here since 2002.