The missing link in the evolution of classifieds


By Johan Nel, CEO of Gumtree South Africa

There has been enough said about the prolificacy of collaborative consumption in 2015, a trend where consumers are taking on the roles of producers and service providers.

We’ve seen peer-to-peer car- and accommodation sharing (like Uber and AirBNB) take the world by storm seemingly overnight, but there are also numerous peer-to-peer lending services, task-sharing services, peer-to-peer clothing sales, peer-to-peer teaching…the list is endless.

Perhaps the oldest of these pivots would be peer-to-peer trading that has happened both offline (the infamous “small ad” section of the newspaper) and online (online classifieds are among the most trafficked sites in the world today).

Johan Nel, Country Manager of Gumtree SA
Johan Nel, Country Manager of Gumtree SA

The industry has been far from stagnating. There has been expansion into new services, the advent of vertical specialization and precision targeting for advertisers, to name but a few interesting local developments.

However, converting individuals who have never used such as platform has been a challenging one – particularly in a South African context where the Web is still opening up to a new generation of users who did not grow up with ecommerce as part and parcel of their shopping experience.

Early adopters have lauded the convenience, the experience of meeting new people and not being bound to a store, whereas mainstream users were swayed by the ability to make money or find significantly lower priced items online. For the last remaining few, these factors were outweighed by a significant barrier: the risk.

We know that the perceived risk far outweighs the actual risks of transacting online. The majority of South African classifieds have confirmed that only a handful of cases of theft or fraud are reported every month, despite the fact that millions of transactions are conducted in the same window. Until the perceived risk is lowered, it stands to reason that shopping behavior won’t change.

It’s been a challenge for many classifieds globally. Some have introduced lengthy registration processes and complex security measures, which made their sites safer but alienated their early and mainstream adopters. After all, the beauty of peer-to-peer trading is that it is that simple – email, connect, sell. Heavy moderation was found to be off-putting and unwanted.

But by introducing optional third party escrow services and facilitators such as Shepherd (powered by Standard Bank), we are finally seeing these barriers diminish without compromising the characteristics that lie at the heart of the site – the freedom to transact as individuals, without undue interference.

For the first time ever, a buyer can deposit money into an escrow account and have a courier bring the desired item to their door. If the buyer is satisfied with the item, the courier merely has to activate their handheld prompter to release the funds to the sellers. The parties never have to meet, handle large amounts of cash or worry about defaulted payments. It’s win-win, bringing the formality of traditional online retail to the peer to peer space. The same applies to car buyers, who can have a professional service provide financing, full vehicle checks and history and all other elements of the transaction, giving them peace of mind.

This also addresses the much-studied aversion for online shoppers who perceive the risk of buying an item via the Internet as much higher because of limited physical access to an item before purchase. Second hand designer clothing and wedding and evening wear, for example, are often sold via classifieds but buyers might not be keen to try on the clothing at the sellers’ home. Electronics are another luxury item that most customers would prefer to thoroughly test for compatibility and functionality before signing off on the sale. Others simply do not want to interact with sellers or invite buyers into their homes.

Will every buyer and seller make use of these services? Probably not, but for the ones that have never used an online classifieds’ site before, this could very well be the nudge that pushes them into the era of peer-to-peer selling.

More Americans love Telkom

Telkom is attracting more American institutional investors in the equity markets as some South Africans ditch the shares of the country’s largest fixed-line operator.

Telkom’s turnaround strategy especially its initiative to cut fat in the business via retrenchments is facing opposition from its unions and ‘making some local investors uneasy’.

But United States of America’s institutional investors are picking up majority of the shares being dumped by locals in the equity market, followed by the UK and Germany.

Clearly Americans are seeing value in the business, when some South Africans are slowly losing faith.

In the year to end- March 2015, Telkom institutional shareholders by geographic showed South Africans institutions in a lead, followed by US shareholders.  But the number of South African shareholders in Telkom have reduced to 44% in 2015 compared to 77% in 2014, reflecting a 33% of vote of no confidence.

According to Telkom’s 2015 annual report, the US institutional investors rose to 35% in 2015 versus 15.3% in 2014, gaining 19.3% as it snapped up some of those shares sold by South African institutional holders.

While UK institutional investors increase their shareholding in Telkom rose by 1% to 5% in 2015 versus 4% in 2014.

Image source: Fin24
Image source: Fin24

Netherlands and Germany are sitting at 4% versus 2% that was occupied by the rest of Europe in 2014.

If Telkom’s turnaround delivers return to shareholders, clearly those South Africans who have sold their equity shares stand to lose on dividends that may be paid by the operator.

Last month, Telkom declared its first dividend in more than 3 years, announcing it will pay a dividend and a special divided totaling 245 cents per share.

During the year to March, Telkom reduced its net debt by 92.8% to R151 million and free cash flow increased to R3.9 billion.

It seems foreign institutional investors are positioning themselves for more return on investment at Telkom.

US-based SBC Communications, which bought AT&T in 2005, creating the new AT&T, used to own jointly with Telkom Malaysia a 30 percent stake in Telkom.

Telkom shares closed at R79.20 by the end of March 31 2015 versus R33.65 in the same period in 2014. The stock, which is valued at more than R29 billion, has increased 225% in the past 3 years.



Is R18m paid to ex-Telkom CFO a golden parachute?


By Gugu Lourie

Telkom ex-chief financial officer Jacques Schindehütte would only get R18 million as a ‘golden handshake’ or so said the country’s biggest fixed-line telephone group’s 2015 annual report.

It is a victory for Schindehütte and a loss for those who wanted him out of the company?

It seems, he won against his detractors.

Looking carefully at his total package, it seems as if Schindehütte was paid a settlement fee amounting to close to R11 million.

That’s a lovely golden parachute for an executive who didn’t work for the company in 2015 or maybe due to accounting standards his pay is only reflecting now.

golden parachute is defined by Wikipedia as an agreement between a company and an employee (usually upper executive) specifying that the employee will receive certain significant benefits if employment is terminated.

Schindehütte was paid R18.8 million, which consist of a R6.6 million guaranteed package, no short-term incentives, and R12.2 million in  fringe and other benefits.

On 2 October 2013, Schindehütte bought shares worth more than R5.9 million as the company’s share price continues to climb and the group prepared to reveal its turnaround strategy.

Sipho Maseko, Telkom chief executive
Sipho Maseko, Telkom chief executive

Then begun his woes.

But he was suspended effective 24 October 2013, pending a disciplinary process. The company didn’t provide reasons for the suspension.

He left the company on 8 August 2014 and the disciplinary process against him was relinquished by Telkom and no reasons whatsoever were provided.

Telkom announced that Schindehütte retired from the board with full benefits and the disciplinary proceedings have been discontinued. Telkom settled the retirement benefit with Schindehütte during November 2014.

Deon Fredericks, Telkom's chief financial officer
Deon Fredericks, Telkom’s chief financial officer

At the time, Telkom said Schindehütte was advised that the R5.9m loan granted to him to buy shares was void and has a fiduciary duty to repay it to the company.

Schindehutte said he would repay the loan.

“The interest-free loan has nothing to do with my suspension as I followed the correct procedure to seek approval for the loan,” said Schindehutte in an interview with Blooomberg news agency.

“I’ve now been told that the company was unable to ratify the loan as they had indicated to the market and I’ve been called upon to repay the loan. I will do that forthwith.”

But Telkom insisted that the loan to Schindehütte was granted in a manner that was inconsistent with the provisions of the Companies Act, making the transaction null and void. The board cannot and did not ratify the granting of the loan.

According to Telkom annual report no shares were allocated to Schindehütte in 2013 as he retired in August 2014.

However, the fringe benefits paid to Schindehütte may include an undefined short-term incentive of R1.2 million and long-term incentive payments of R10.3 million for full-year 2015 and 2014.

Finally, let’s hope the so-called ‘illusive truth’ behind what happened to Schindehütte will be revealed one day.

Sipho Maseko, the CEO of Telkom, was paid R12 million total package in 2015 and Deon Frederick, who replaced Schindehütte received R8.7 million.

Vodacom CFO Dittrich quits

By Gugu Lourie

Vodacom Group, a subsidiary of British mobile phone giant Vodafone, announced on Monday that Ivan Dittrich, Chief Financial Officer and executive director, has resigned from the company to pursue his own interests.

He will step down from the Vodacom board with effect from 31 July 2015.

Till Streichert, currently Executive Director: Finance of Vodacom South Africa will succeed Ivan as Chief Financial Officer and executive director of the company with effect from 1 August 2015.

Ivan Dittich, Vodacom’s chief financial officer
Ivan Dittich, Vodacom’s chief financial officer

Till joined Vodacom in February 2014, prior to which he had been CFO of Vodafone Romania. He held a number of senior finance and commercial roles in Romania which included Director of Channel Marketing, Logistics and Sales Operations, Director of Financial Planning & Reporting and Finance Operations before he was appointed as CFO in 2011.

Till has also served as a strategy consultant at The Boston Consulting Group and started his career working for the CEO of T-Mobile Germany before undertaking different senior roles at T-Mobile UK.  Till has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Hanover in Germany.


Vodacom also announced that  Hatem Dowidar, non-executive director has resigned from the Vodafone Group and will step down from the Board with effect from 30 September 2015


Replacing Hatem on the Board with effect from 1 October 2015 is Marten Pieters , the former CEO and managing director of Vodafone India, a role he held from February 2009 until April 2015. Marten was also the Chairman of the board of the Cellular Operators in India. He is the former non-executive director of Millicom International Cellular (2008 to 2009) and was CEO of Celtel International B.V from 2003 until 2007.

Google: University in your pocket?

What’s the point of education if Google can tell us anything?


Can’t remember the name of the two elements that scientist Marie Curie discovered? Or who won the 1945 UK general election? Or how many light years away the sun is from the earth? Ask Google.

Constant access to an abundance of online information at the click of a mouse or tap of a smartphone has radically reshaped how we socialise, inform ourselves of the world around us and organise our lives. If all facts can be summoned instantly by looking online, what’s the point of spending years learning them at school and university? In the future, it might be that once young people have mastered the basics of how to read and write, they undertake their entire education merely through accessing the internet via search engines such as Google, as and when they want to know something.

Some educational theorists have argued that you can replace teachers, classrooms, textbooks and lectures by simply leaving students to their own devices to search and collect information about a particular topic online. Such ideas have called into question the value of a traditional system of education, one in which teachers simply impart knowledge to students. Of course, others have warned against the dangers of this kind of thinking and the importance of the teacher and human contact when it comes to learning.

Such debate about the place and purpose of online searching in learning and assessments is not new. But rather than thinking of ways to prevent students from cheating or plagiarising in their assessed pieces of work, maybe our obsession with the “authenticity” of their coursework or assessment is missing another important educational point.

Digital content curators

In my recent research looking at the ways students write their assignments, I found that increasingly they may not always compose written work which is truly “authentic”, and that this may not be as important as we think. Instead, through prolific use of the internet, students engaged in a number of sophisticated practices to search, sift, critically evaluate, anthologise and re-present pre-existing content. Through a close examination of the moment-by-moment work of the way students write assignments, I came to see how all the pieces of text students produced contained elements of something else. These practices need to be better understood and then incorporated into new forms of education and assessment.

These online practices are about harnessing an abundance of information from a multitude of sources, including search engines like Google, in what I call a form of “digital content curation”. Curation in this sense is about how learners use existing content to produce new content through engaging in problem-solving and intellectual inquiry, and creating a new experience for readers.

Lessons in how to search. Students via bikeriderlondon/

Part of this is developing a critical eye about what’s being searched for online, or “crap-detection”, whilst wading through the deluge of available information. This aspect is vital to any educationally serious notion of information curation, as learners increasingly use the web as extensions of their own memory when searching.

Students must begin by understanding that most online content is already curated by search engines like Google using their PageRank algorithm and other indicators. Curation, therefore, becomes a kind of stewardship of other people’s writing and requires entering into a conversation with the writers of those texts. It is a crucial kind of ‘digital literacy’

Curation has, through pervasive connectivity, found its way into educational contexts. There is now a need to better understand how practices of online searching and the kinds of writing emerging from curation can be incorporated into the way we assess students.

How to assess these new skills

While writing for assessment tends to focus on the production of a student’s own, “authentic” work, it could also take curation practices into account. Take, for example, a project designed as a kind of digital portfolio. This could require students to locate information on a particular question, organise existing web extracts in a digestible and story-like way, acknowledge their sources, and present an argument or thesis.

Solving problems through synthesising large amounts of information, often collaboratively, and engaging in exploratory and problem-solving pursuits (rather than just memorising facts and dates) are key skills in the 21st century, information-based economy. As the London Chamber of Commerce has highlighted, we must make sure young people and graduates enter employment with these skills.

My own research has shown that young people may already be expert curators as part of their everyday internet experience and surreptitious assignment writing strategies. Teachers and lecturers need to explore and understand these practices better, and create learning opportunities and academic assessment tasks around these somewhat “hard to assess” skills.

In an era of informational abundance, educational end-products – the exam or piece of coursework – need to become less about a single student creating an “authentic” text, and more about a certain kind of digital literacy which harnesses the wisdom of the network of information that is available at the click of a button.

A customer-service wearable that helps restaurants, hospitals, retailers


No need to wave to get attention at restaurants, just press a button to get the service you require

Many times people compliment restaurants for their good food, but they often complain about poor service – but that may be a thing of the past.

Dissatisfaction with services is a common irritation in South Africa – it can happen to anyone when they go out to dine with family, friends or loved ones.

While there are few methods to check on the quality of service restaurant’s offer, food lovers rely mostly on word of mouth or social media.

Ushir Shah wants to provide people with another way to enjoy their visits to their favourite eating places.

He is the founder of BellMe, a startup that wants to offer a solution that ensures simpler and faster communication, increasing reaction time and improving customer service and interaction at restaurants, hospitals and retail shops.

Shah aims to encourage industries such as restaurants, hospitals, retirement homes, hotels and supermarkets to improve their services based on customer feedback.

The BellMe wireless paging system is placed in areas with easy access for customers. For example, waiters will wear wireless watch pagers on their wrists.

According to BellMe website, by the simple press of a button, the waiter is immediately alerted of the customer’s need.

“The wireless calling Bell system is also placed at receptions, kitchens, cash desks or info desks, alerting staff when orders are ready. This in turn improves staff response and customer satisfaction, probably the two most crucial success factors in the guest-related industry,” BellMe says on its website.


BellMe’s wireless calling Bell system is already widely used in many industries, giving patients, guests, clients, and patrons the ultimate service with immediate assistance, saving time and lives.

The company would not be drawn into discussing details of its solutions – BellMe would not give away the idea behind the technology or where it was being manufactured.

But so far the technology used by this startup seems to be taking off.

According to BellMe website, users of its system include Pick n Pay in Hillcrest at Durban, restaurants, UBS Bank, Shone Bam False Bay Hospital, Serene Retirement Centre, Spar Royale in in Umhlanga, The Barnyard Theatre in Rivonia and Soviet Head Office in Midrand.

BellMe has also expanded into Mozambique.

According to its Facebook page it claims to be providing the service to the President of Mozambique.

BellMe is now at the President of Mozambique’s house, Ponta Vermelha, Maputo!We supplied the the president with a…

Posted by BellMe on Monday, March 30, 2015

“The BellMe system is relatively new in Durban and thus customers are intrigued and excited about using it. It’s a very good system and the service from BellMe has been exceptional,” says Angelique, a manager at Belaire Suites Restaurant on Durban’s beachfront.

BellMe explains: “We supplied this restaurant with a system for patrons to call waitrons without having to shout or wave their hands. This system helps their clients get service when they need it, without having to wave down a waiter. Call Buttons are placed on the patron’s tables which alert waitrons via Display Receivers (wall mounted) when a patron requires attention.”

The company is already on social media and promoting the system and the wireless watch pagers. It has 89 followers on Twitter page and 148 likes on Facebook page.

BellMe is also at Pick n Pay in Hillcrest, Durban. The startup supplied Pick n Pay with a system for tellers to call their supervisors. This put and an end to waving, shouting, and annoying delays at the till that frustrate shoppers.

Call Buttons are placed at the tellers and management wear Wrist Watch Receivers. Once a button has been pressed when assistance is needed, it immediately sends a signal to the Wrist Watch, allowing management to identify exactly which till requires attention.

Pick n Pay Hillcrest enjoys quick reaction times to attend to queries at tills, thanks to BellMe Wireless Paging Systems.

If you wish you could grab your waiters’ attention with a touch of a button, just check BellMe sytems and the wrist watch pager on their website.

Huge Group scouting for acquisitions


By Gugu Lourie

Buoyed by its rising share price, JSE-listed telecommunications firm Huge Group has set its sights on niche acquisitions in South Africa, where it sees itself as a natural consolidator.

Huge Group – which has a market capitalisation of more than R388m –has seen its stock rise close to 300% in the past three years and 164% in the past year.

The counter is currently trading at R3.50 a share for a healthy 61% growth in the past 90 days.

Huge Group’s strategy has clearly struck a chord with investors.

“This price appreciation has strengthened Huge Group’s ability to contemplate mergers and acquisitions on a share for share basis significantly,” CEO James Herbst says in the company’s 2015 annual report.

James Herbst, Huge Group CEO
James Herbst, Huge Group CEO

“The volume of shares traded in the past year is also encouraging and this has strengthened Huge Group’s potential ability to acquire companies for cash on the basis of a vendor placing shares.”

At present the company is trading under cautionary after it advised investors on 28 April 2015 that it was in discussions for a strategic acquisition.

At the time the company announced that no formal agreement or offer was in place; nevertheless the board of directors of Huge was “supportive of the proposed acquisition”.

Its major shareholders include Peregrine Equities with 13.14% interest, Pacific Breeze (an indirect beneficial holders related to the company’s CEO), Praesidium Family Trust holds 9.15%, Eagle Creek Investments 223 owns 8.84%, Huge Telecoms holds 8.70% and Praesidium Hedge Fund holds 7.75%.

These shareholders have stuck with Huge Group even when it was embroiled in a five year legal battle with mobile phone operator MTN and profits of its main operating company Huge Telecom’s had been hit by regulatory changes.

Huge ended up settling the dispute in 2014 by paying a R10m-settlement to MTN, via an issue of shares worth R20m. This move enabled the firm to strengthen its working position.

“The settlement by Huge finally removed an overhang on the share price and refocused investor attention on the quality of the assets,” says an industry analyst,  adding that the end of the dispute freed Huge Group’s management time to focus on growing the business.

Huge Group operations centre mainly on its subsidiaries Huge Telecom, which has 30 000 customers with telephone lines, and Huge Mobile.  They both provide services such as voice, messaging and data connectivity using a wireless GSM-based, fixed-cellular, last-mile solution to corporate and residential clients.

Ove the past five years, Huge Group also worked on building its business partner distribution network, which it has grown from 63 in July 2010 to 450 to date. This has allowed the telecommunications firm to increase five-fold its installation of telephone lines or connections.

 “The acquisition of new business partners is a lead indicator of increased monthly sales of new connections or telephone lines, which in turn is a lead indicator of Huge Telecom’s primary revenue metric – average revenue per weighted day,” says  Herbst.

The company believes it is well-positioned to grow in the market the same way as internet service provider Afrihost, which was acquired by MTN for R408m.

The business case for Huge Group is centred on its wholly owned subsidiary Huge Telecom, which has 30 000 customers with telephone lines.

The company believes that Huge Telecom’s control of a “last mile” network for its customers is an advantage.

“Last mile” refers to technology providing connection services to customer premises, which is controlled by Telkom as a monopoly and other industry players want unbundled.

Indications are that Huge Group was likely to grow via a shopping spree and organically.

As a niche player it could surprise the market with good returns in a space, where Telkom as a big player is losing money on telephone connections.


How drones can deliver tangible benefits to ordinary people in Africa

By Thomas Snitch

They are called unmanned aerial vehicles but are better known as drones. These are small aerial vehicles with fixed wings or small rotors, are usually powered with batteries, and equipped with a high resolution camera.

Drones range in cost from $99 to tens of thousands of dollars. But they are truly a disruptive technology in that they can do what piloted airplanes can but in cheaper, better, and – in many cases – more efficient ways.

In less than five years we will see unmanned aerial vehicles being flown on a myriad of missions doing good. They can be a game-changer on the African continent.

Practical applications

As part of on-going experimentation at the University of Maryland, we have been flying small unmanned aerial vehicles in southern Africa for more than two years. We have found that they can be used in a number of practical ways in the medical field, agriculture, tourism and to protect the environment.

Drones have already shown their effectiveness in combatting rhino and elephant poaching. Equipped with thermal imaging cameras and absolutely silent, drones can see animals and poachers in the bush at night.

Is this Sony drone the next must-have item that could make a difference for the good of humankind. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch
But there are a range of uses drones can be put to. They can be used for precision agriculture to help farmers decide when and where to apply fertiliser or irrigate crops. Drones are also great for monitoring the depths of water holes.

We have found that unmanned aerial vehicles can be used to monitor fence lines so that instead of having individuals driving for hours every day to inspect the integrity of a fence, a low-flying unmanned aerial vehicle can videotape and analyse the structure of a fence in under an hour. If there are breaks in the fence, the drone’s computer can geo-tag the exact location.

In one park location we used an unmanned aerial vehicle instead of having two rangers drive the entire length of the fence. This resulted in savings of 51 litres of fuel a day. When calculated over a year the savings in fuel paid for the drone.

An unmanned aerial vehicle can also be dispatched when smoke is sighted in the sky. It can provide live video of a possible fire in minutes when it could take rangers several hours to drive to the location. This use has been exceptionally powerful during the day and at night.

There are also many ways that drones can be used to provide benefits to eco-tourists visiting lodges. Rather than driving around for hours looking for animals, the unmanned aerial vehicles can be dispatched to fly in front of a safari vehicle to scan the area for sightings. Happy tourists are likely to recommend a lodge to future visitors.

Finally, we are working on a project to use longer range unmanned aerial vehicles for flights of up to 30 kilometres to deliver medicines to remote villages. High-value but lightweight medicines are the perfect items for delivery by drones. This could be extraordinarily important to areas that may be cutoff during the rainy season.

Barriers to approval

Like many places around the world, the development of unmanned aerial vehicles technology has unfortunately outpaced the regulatory capability of national governments. As a result it is very difficult to obtain official permission to fly a drone – for any reason – in any African country. For example, the Kenyan government has refused to grant permission to fly unmanned aerial vehicles in the highly threatened Tsavo West National Park.

Where we have tried to fly unmanned aerial vehicles, we have had to get permission from the host nation’s civil aviation authority, the national and local police, the military – usually the air force – and the intelligence community. The ministry of environment or tourism also has to be approached, but is usually the easiest place to obtain clearance to fly.

These efforts require many visits to Africa, countless forms that must be filled in, dozens of meetings with government agencies, and – in most cases – a denial based on an ill-informed understanding of unmanned aerial vehicle technology. Months and years have been wasted while the needs of many remain unmet.

Drones are a tool, nothing more. When used appropriately, they are a valuable tool with tangible benefits. Thirty years ago people feared computers but now the cellphone has become ubiquitous. Drones will soon become just as common for the good of the continent.

Meet “gauge” your retirement future: Goal Gauge app


By Staff Writer

Denver Courtier (not his real name) is a typical young South African, who claims he is too young to worry about retirement right now. While many people on low incomes believe they do not have enough to save, since their income barely covers the essentials.

Looking at your financials today and seeing yourself as you will in the year 2065 is frightening.

But finally help is here.

Yellowtail is bringing to South Africa an app developed by Figlo that is planning to take you to ‘your retirement age with comfort’.

The Goal Gauge app is an online application that enables financial advisors and their customers to more accurately and efficiently determine and plan their retirement goals and objectives.

It is a new application within the Figlo Platform, the integrated holistic planning solution that helps the customer to determine whether their retirement goal is achievable, what asset allocation is required to optimise it and how to align and update current and new investments to achieve these goals.

“Knowledge is power when it comes to retirement planning, setting retirement goals and actions is one of the best ways to kick-start and best manage retirement planning,” says Yellowtail’s Maarten Boddeus, principal consultant and Figlo Specialist.

Yellowtail’s Maarten Boddeus, Principal Consultant and Figlo Specialist
Yellowtail’s Maarten Boddeus, Principal Consultant and Figlo Specialist

“Our clients are looking to improve the quality of advice they give their customers; Goal Gauge is a nifty tool that it enables this. Now financial advisers are more easily able to provide accurate and targeted advice, delivering a plan that is tailored to the customer’s life goals.”

Goal Gauge was developed to enable financial services organisations to improve the quality of retirement planning advice they offer through a process defined as ‘direct insight’.

By inputting data into the application, financial advisors are able to assess whether their customer will achieve their investment objectives. For instance they are able to assess whether the savings and investment products remain relevant to the profile and what effect depositing cash or changing the risk appetite will have.

The program utilises simple graphs and diagrams, making the information easier to understand.

Vodacom to invest R200m in Limpopo


By Staff Writer

In late 2013, Vodacom embarked on a major project to accelerate investment in its network across South Africa. This programme, called Project Spring, has over the past year alone resulted in Vodacom increasing the number of 3G sites by more than 20% to almost 9 000, and more than doubling the number of LTE/4G sites to 2 600.

This focus on network investment is continuing into Vodacom’s 2015-2016 financial year, and will result in more than R200 million being spent in the Limpopo region to expand coverage and increase network capacity and speed.

“We’ll be bringing faster data services to tens of thousands of people who currently only have voice services and EDGE data services.” – Chris Lazarus, Managing Executive: Limpopo.

Chris Lazarus, Vodacom’s newly appointed Managing Executive for the Limpopo Region says: “I’m pleased to announce that more than R200 million has been earmarked for network investment in the Limpopo province in the current financial year. That’s an increase of more than 20% from last year, the bulk of which will be spent on adding new base stations and connecting sites with our own high-speed transmission.

“This year we’re planning to add 185 3G sites and more than 50 LTE/4G sites. On a practical basis, this means that we’ll be

Chris Lazarus, Managing Executive: Limpopo
Chris Lazarus, Managing Executive: Limpopo

bringing faster data services to tens of thousands of people who currently only have voice services and EDGE data services. On top of this, the upgrade will increase network capacity and provide improved voice quality and enhanced mobile data speeds in outlying areas such as Tzaneen, Grobelsdaal, Thabazimbi and Musina by the end of March 2016.”

In addition to the major increase in investment in base stations, Vodacom will also be ramping up investment in the core network.

“The base stations are what we call the radio access network, and its key role is to connect to people’s mobile devices. The core network is more like the brains at the centre of Vodacom that is responsible for routing traffic and making sure that everything functions smoothly,” said Lazarus.

To strengthen the core network, Vodacom will this year build a new Base Station Controller facility in Lephalale, resulting in improved voice and data services across the province. On top of this, Vodacom will also install fibre-optic transmission capacity in Mankweng, Thohoyandou, Lephalale and Grobelsdaal.

“Our goal isn’t just to be the best network in Limpopo. We’re putting hundreds of millions of Rands into network investment this year in a bid to make sure that we get as many people as possible connected no matter where they are. It’s important that we invest in the rural areas as well as the cities to make sure that nobody gets left behind,” says Lazarus.