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Africa is becoming a test lab for mobile phone development

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Since 2009, Vodafone has significantly increased its presence in Africa. Vodacom, Vodafone’s leading subsidiary, hired 4,082 additional employees in Africa, bringing the total to 6,833 (a 150 percent gain). As a whole, Vodafone employment in Ghana increased from 13,676 in 2009 to 21,064 in 2010. Vodafone’s Seek, Identify, and Support (SIS) program enables the company to quickly identify new opportunities in the African market. The SIS program allows employees to propose potential projects that will benefit the company, and local communities. Often times, the communities are the employees’ home villages.

For Vodafone, sub-Saharan Africa is proving to be the testbed for R&D development that will transition to the rest of the world. Vodafone’s emerging “Africanized” technology is highly advanced, world-class stuff; unlike other existing technologies that have slowly trickled down into African markets.

Some examples: At first, Vodafone and its network of subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa tapped into the existing electrical grid. But the newly represented company was soon bombarded with complains from customers over spotty coverage and service outages. The problem was identified immediately. Some countries, specifically Kenya and the DRC, had very weak supporting infrastructures. As a result, the overburdened electrical grids dropped power to cell towers, regularly cutting service from paying subscribers until power loads reduced to sustainable levels. The outages could have lasted for hours. To remedy the issue, Vodafone fitted cell towers with gasoline backup generators.

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