Vodacom unveils lofty fiber, fintech, IOT investment plans as it entrenches itself as a tech company

SOUTH AFRICA – Mobile communication company Vodacom is fortifying its business model, scaling up fibre, financial services, Internet of things (IOT) and network expansion plans in a bid to become the dominant telco in all its markets.

The telco says it remains focused on entrenching Vodacom as a top Pan-African technology company through investments in these sectors to augment its relationships with the 100 million plus customers it serves across Africa.

The intensified desire to pursue opportunities in fibre, financial services and IOT comes at a time the telco is transitioning into a fully-fledged digital technology communications firm as part the group’s long-term vision.

In its recently released integrated annual report for the year ended March 2021, Vodacom says it is continually seeking to create opportunities in new growth vectors.

“We remain focused on entrenching Vodacom as a leading Pan-African technology company through our investments in fibre, IOT and financial, digital and lifestyle services, as these increasingly provide opportunities to enhance our relationships with the 123.7 million customers we serve across our footprint,” says CEO Shameel Joosub.

“In particular, we are excited about the growth of financial services in South Africa, as well as our partnership with Alipay and the imminent launch of our single lifestyle app, VodaPay, in South Africa.

“Our super-app will offer services ranging from loans and savings, seamless QR and person-to-person payments, to entertainment and personalised shopping experiences, promoting greater financial inclusion. We see this super-app as a precursor to M-Pesa’s evolution, supporting accelerated growth across our financial services businesses and assisting us in connecting the next 100 million African customers so that no one is left behind, ” he emphasizes.

The growth vectors

Through financial services, Vodacom says, it aims to accelerate platform and product expansion across the group.

“To this end, we intend to monetise investments, partnerships, platforms and new capabilities to generate growth. Once launched, our super-app will create a single platform for customers to access a marketplace, save and invest, complete payments and apply for finance.

“Furthermore, we will focus on digitalising M-Pesa and scaling our financial and digital services to expand the Vodacom ecosystem and capture more opportunities across this system of advantage.”

Turning to fibre, the telco says in a price-competitive and saturated market, its fibre-to-the-home and business footprint continued to expand in the past financial year, positioning Vodacom Fibre for success in a dynamic market.

“The number of homes connected to Vodacom Fibre increased by 103%, with the number of connected businesses increasing 48% year-on-year,” says Vodacom.

According to the report, Vodacom Fibre now has the third-largest connected customer base in South Africa, with 146,601 fibre points passed.

The telco add that it is constantly reviewing strategy to ensure it remains relevant in a rapidly changing operating environment, which it says, is increasingly becoming complex and challenging.

“We have implemented several efficiency measures to improve the customer experience. These measures included improving our time to connect, targeting our sales focus and addressing customer connectivity needs through multiple bitstream providers. By doing this, we continued to strengthen the quality of our customer engagements,” the telco notes.

IOT is another area that Vodacom has a growing appetite for, saying in the past financial year, IOT-underlying revenue increased 32.8%.

Vodacom says in the period under review, it developed solutions to support the rebuilding of customer businesses and implement return-to-workplace solutions that leveraged IOT capabilities, such as vital signs, thermal screening, social distancing, personal protective equipment monitoring, and employee track and trace.

“Vodacom IOT assisted the South African government by developing the Mpilo app. This patient engagement platform eases communication between patients, doctors and the Department of Health, and improves service delivery at provincial health facilities. The mobile app’s latest features aim to help healthcare workers trace people who have tested positive for COVID-19. The app has 61,467 active users. We deployed our pre-existing health app solutions to support government’s fight against COVID-19.”

“Through mVacciNation, more than 95,000 patient records have been created and more than 315 000 immunisations administered, while over 140,000 COVID-19 tests were processed through eLABS in South Africa, Zambia and Nigeria. Through the Stock Visibility Solution, more than 41 million reports were submitted in South Africa.”

Further, Vodacom says, the acquisition of IOT.nxt yielded positive results for its IOT business, and IOT.nxt also benefited from revenue earned in the US and other Vodafone markets, thereby increasing the telco’s IOT revenue.

“We are encouraged by Vodafone’s adoption of IOT.nxt as a centre of competence for key IOT end-to-end solutions like smart base stations, smart buildings and energy management. Our COVID-19 solutions were driven through IOT.nxt and Nexio, with health solutions driven through Mezzanine.”

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