‘We need to have the hunger to innovate’ says Vodacom Business Chief Executive

How IoT will help bridge the digital divide in Africa
William Mzimba, Chief Executive of Vodacom Business.
'We need to have the hunger to innovate' says Vodacom Business Chief Executive
William Mzimba, Chief Executive of Vodacom Business.

Global Initiatives and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hosted the second Annual Responsible Business Forum (RBF) on Sustainable Development Africa from 25-27 June 2018 at the Hyatt in Johannesburg, South Africa.

‘Transforming Africa’s development through innovation, youth, and technology’ was the theme for this years’ RBF Africa 2018 which saw leaders from business, government, UN agencies, and NGOs focus on partnerships to accelerate the rate of development, address inequalities and find new ways to create fair and decent employment.

During a panel discussion, William Mzimba, Chief Executive of Vodacom Business said innovation is going to unleash the power of the youth. “Technology has become an equalizer, no one in a developed world should think Africa has no access to cutting-edge technologies. We need to have the hunger to innovate” said Mzimba.

“We need to think about the technologies that exist today in abundance which can be utilized to solve challenges. There are five key technologies that are driving potential. Youth can use technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Machine Learning, Blockchain and the Internet of Things to drive change. These technologies will take over critical aspects of connected lives, connected services, connected farms and learning”, he said.

Mzimba says Forums are important because the intersection of innovation, youth and technology is where an impact will be made on this continent. “We need the youth to come with innovative solutions leveraging technology to help us leapfrog developments in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, he said.

Some youth development projects that the company has in place include the E-school, an initiative by Vodacom where learning material is Free to use. Vodacom customers do not pay for any data used when accessing the E-school. All E-school material is developed by expert teachers, Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) aligned and covers all major subjects from Grade R-12. The project is endorsed by the Department of Education.

“The e-school initiative in South Africa where schools have access to content that is curated and aligned to the Department of Education and is zero-rated is one of our projects aimed at the youth. We are enabling effective learning leveraging technology,” said Mzimba.

“Vodacom has a number of initiatives outside of South Africa which includes the Instant School Network where the company brings connectivity and technology to schools in Tanzania, DRC, Ghana, Lesotho, Tanzania, and Mozambique,” said Mzimba.

Instant Network Schools aims to provide access to technology, the internet, and educational content to enhance the quality of education available for students living in refugee camps in countries where Vodafone operates.

The Instant Network Schools programme connects classrooms to the internet providing connectivity, power, tablet computers, mobile content and teacher training which provides previously remote and isolated communities with access to a wealth of educational content and resources.

“Technology gives youth access to what is required to start a business and sustain the business. Everything is about digital and technology. The youth are much more attuned to understand because they are the digital natives, they are the people who are born in the technology era”, concluded Mzimba.

By Fundisiwe Maseko
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