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Vodacom, Vodafone Foundation pledge $5M to Africa's COVID vaccine supply chain

JOHANNESBURG & LONDON – Vodacom Group and Vodafone Foundation will donate €4.2 million (US$5 million) to support the vaccine roll-out to vulnerable and hard to reach communities across its markets in Africa.

The contribution will buy cold-chain technology and provide logistics support to help to ensure the safe delivery of COVID-19 vaccines that need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures.

Separately the organizations will donate €0.8 million ($0.95 million) to Lesotho to purchase vaccines.

The Vodacom Group and Vodafone Foundations have already contributed €10 million ($11.9 million) in cash and in-kind donations in response to the pandemic.

Vodacom Group and Vodafone Foundation have pledged to donate €4.2 million (R74 million) to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are securely delivered to its markets across the continent. Procurement of the life-saving equipment will be managed through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), established by the African Union as a component in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy.

Last week AVATT signed a procurement agreement on behalf of African Union member states for 220 million Johnson and Johnson single dose vaccines manufactured in South Africa. There is an option for an additional 180 million doses.

Africa is also acquiring 700 million vaccines from the World Health Organization initiative known as COVAX. The continent intends to roll out enough vaccines for 760 million people before the end of next year.

The donations from Vodacom Group and Vodafone Foundation will be used to buy equipment to maintain the cold-chain needed for the vaccines to stay at optimal sub-zero temperatures in order to remain viable, and assist with the logistics support around the distribution of the vaccines.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, African Union COVID-19 Champion, said: "Greater collaboration between government, business, labor and civil society is key to the success of the vaccine rollout. We commend the Vodacom Group and Vodafone Foundation. I want to call on all our private sector partners to support this new phase in our fight against the pandemic."

Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read said: "By supporting Africa’s vaccine roll-out we help to protect some of the most vulnerable communities in the countries we serve. Vodafone also encourages our employees globally to support the vaccine delivery appeals by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance and UNICEF to help safeguard health workers and the most high-risk people on our planet."

African Union Special Envoy on Vaccine Acquisitions, Strive Masiyiwa, expressed his deep appreciation for the intervention, saying: "This is a smart, and strategic donation which will have a far-reaching impact, even beyond this pandemic. The African Union initiative is also supported by UNICEF which helped to specify the equipment and will also help countries to acquire the right equipment."

Shameel Joosub Vodacom Group CEO said: "Targeted donations from Vodafone Foundation and Vodacom Group will help nations to address the complexity of maintaining a cold-chain and the logistics around the distribution so that the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines remain viable. We are proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with the African Union and national governments to provide practical support for what is an enormous logistical challenge for resource-limited African countries with significant rural populations."

Separately, Vodacom and Vodafone Foundation have donated €0.8 million (R13 million) in support of the Lesotho government’s call for companies operating in the Kingdom to assist with its vaccination program. The funds will be used to purchase vaccines. The contribution will target phase three of the country’s vaccination plan. That includes much of Lesotho’s public and private workforce.

Andrew Dunnett, director at Vodafone Foundation, said: "We know how important it is for Africa – and ultimately the rest of the world – that the most significant health intervention in the continent’s history is completed successfully. This donation builds upon the €10m (R176m) in grants and in kind contributions that Vodafone and Vodacom Group Foundations have already made in response to the pandemic."

Vodacom has 120 million customers across its operations in South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Lesotho and its shareholding in Safaricom in Kenya. Vodacom Business Africa (VBA) also offers business managed services to enterprises in 29 countries.

Vodacom is 60.5% owned by Vodafone.

Vodacom Pty. Ltd.

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