Vodacom commits R87m to vaccine storage, transportation

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 31 Mar 2021
Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub.
Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub.

Vodacom Group and Vodafone Foundation have pledged R87 million towards the cold chain storage and safe transportation of COVID-19 vaccines in the African countries in which they operate.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced yesterday that Vodacom will also deploy a state-of-the-art vaccine management platform across the African Union member states, following a successful rollout of the platform in SA.

Vodacom, which is led by Shameel Joosub as CEO, has operations in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho, and provides business services to customers in over 32 African countries, including Nigeria, Zambia, Angola, Kenya, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Cameroon.

Vodacom’s pledge comes just a month after Africa’s biggest mobile operator MTN made a similar multimillion-rand contribution to combating the COVID-19 virus.

MTN donated $25 million to support the African Union’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The donation will help secure up to seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for health workers across the continent, which will contribute to the vaccination initiative of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Addressing the nation last night, Ramaphosa urged private sector partners to “support this new phase in our fight against the pandemic”.

The president said the electronic vaccination data system was established to manage the vaccine rollout and direct people towards vaccination sites closest to where they live.

“This system will allow you to register, receive an appointment date and site, and receive a digital certificate or a hard copy confirming your vaccination status once vaccinated. Everyone that will be vaccinated will have to be registered on the system first, and you will be invited to register once you become eligible,” he said.

“We will work through provincial and district structures and community-based organisations to register those citizens who do not have access to technology. We are developing mechanisms to identify and register undocumented persons so that they too can be vaccinated.”

To ensure SA has supporting infrastructure, the president said over 2 000 vaccination sites have been identified across the country.

These include general practitioners’ rooms, community clinics and pharmacies, retail outlets, and in some instances, larger facilities like stadiums and conference centres.

Ramaphosa revealed that more than 250 000 health workers have to date received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“We have secured 11 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which we know to be effective against the dominant variants in our country. We have secured a further 20 million doses and are finalising the agreement with Johnson & Johnson. We are also finalising an agreement for 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses.”

This supply of vaccines, he said, will provide enough doses to vaccinate 41 million people.