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Vodacom, Google give Limpopo villages free Android phones

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Vodacom and Google SA have launched a project seeking to close the digital divide in the country, which will see villages across Limpopo province receive free Android phones and basic digital skills training.

The companies say this forms part of their efforts to offer deep rural communities in Limpopo province access to the Internet for the first time and expose them to the benefits of digital transformation.

Eleven villages in Limpopo where Vodacom recently deployed 3G and 4G networks will receive the Android-powered smartphones at no cost.

The second phase of the project will see these communities receive basic Internet training and digital skills, such as using the smartphone, data and apps like Google Search, YouTube, Google Maps and Vodacom platform ConnectU.

The zero-rated ConnectU provides content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services free of charge.

For the young people in these villages, they will also be signed up as learners to the 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. This is a model we are pioneering in Limpopo and we know that this is going to transform people’s lives for the better,” says Imran Khan, managing executive for Vodacom Limpopo region.

“Our purpose is to ‘connect for a better future’, improving the lives of the 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 we connect everyone, irrespective of where they live.”

Commenting on the project, Mariam Abdullahi, Google director for Android and platform partnerships for Africa, says: “Android’s goal has always been to bring the power of computing to everyone. Access to the opportunities the Internet offers is critical for any nation’s economic growth and social inclusion. We believe this collaboration will bring more South Africans online and help them take advantage of the opportunities.”

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