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Vodacom, Agri SA provide rural telecoms

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Vodacom Business and Agri SA have announced a partnership agreement to provide satellite based communication solutions to Agri SA’s members and the wider rural community.

This agreement follows a resolution adopted by Agri SA’s congress in 2011, whereby they were instructed to investigate alternative telecommunication systems for rural users.

“By partnering with Agri SA we will have the opportunity to bring Vodacom’s satellite based voice and data solutions to the rural community, including Agri SA members,” says Chris Lazarus, managing executive of Vodacom Business Services.

“The deterioration of rural fixed-line telephone infrastructure means that effective telecommunication in various regions has become virtually impossible especially with regards to gaining access to the internet, email facilities and, recently, also voice.   Needless to say that for farmers and the rural community at large, telecommunication is important for transactional purposes as well as for security reasons,” says Johannes Möller, president of Agri SA.

“Vodacom is well aware of the fact that rural areas of South Africa are under-serviced with regard to connectivity. This has presented real challenges to not only the farming community, but to their customers, service suppliers and rural communities in general,” says Lazarus.

“Agriculture is a critical sector for development, employment and the economy of the country. To realise the full potential of this sector agricultural players need access to cutting-edge technology to market and grow their businesses. This partnership with Agri SA will serve as a catalyst to bring a truly mobile, accessible and affordable solution to these areas,” he adds.

Agri SA has gone through a lengthy process to properly evaluate possible alternatives to fixed-line telecommunications in relation to the applicable resolution taken by its congress. “We believe that Vodacom is well positioned to provide the necessary services to not only our members but also the wider rural community who are largely dependent on agriculture for their livelihood,” says Möller.

“Farm leaders will be offered the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the communication system at the forthcoming congresses in the various provinces.  Vodacom will also shortly be launching ten pilot projects around the country for farmers to evaluate and to provide us with the necessary feedback.”