Vodacom Congo reaches out to rural poor
By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo
Mobile operator Vodacom appears to be changing gear in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), now shifting its attention and resources to the rural communities of this Central African nation, who seem to be struggling to tame the demons of underdevelopment and poverty.
“Bearing in mind that communication is not a privilege but a right that must be accessible to everyone, we have put in place a national project of rural coverage that is targeting all the vulnerable communities living in remoteness and have a low purchasing power, and have been victims of insecurity,” Vodacom media relations officer Roliane Yulu said.
Though the project has been rolling for some time, it is believed that the first rural communities that are set to hugely benefit from this project is those living in the Great Kasai, where the majority of the people are said to be living in extreme poverty, with no electricity, safe drinking water and adequate healthcare, and no jobs.
To make a project a success, Vodacom has been consulting and collaborating with local communities in a country where ordinary citizens are often not consulted when drafting development projects.
Yulu hailed the involvement of local populations and authorities of the Great Kasai in this project, saying that they have made available land and space for free to serve as installation sites of antennas and mastheads and warehouses for construction materials.
Yulu also said that Vodacom has noted the improvement of security in the regions previously hit by violence committed by armed groups.
More than 50 armed groups are thought to be wreaking havoc in the DRC, according to a UN report.
Antennas will be erected in all the rural areas of Great Kasai, where Vodacom is hoping to also deploy its 3G technology, which is already covering all the territory, Yulu said.