The group has helped the government cut its voice and data expenditure by 56% in the past two years. Siphiwe Sibeko Reuters
JOHANNESBURG - Vodacom is in talks to use its technology to distribute social grants as it announced that it had helped the government cut its voice and data expenditure by 56percent since securing the exclusive communications tender two years ago.

Mickey Mashale, the chief sales officer for Vodacom Business, said on Friday that the company had started discussions with relevant departments on how to get involved in distributing social grants to millions of recipients through M-Pesa.

“I am not pre-empting to say the government will agree. What we are saying is that we have the technology and it is helping governments elsewhere. The very same M-Pesa is being used to deliver grants to displaced people in war camps,” she said.

Mashale said Vodacom, a Vodafone subsidiary, was the biggest bank in Africa by virtue of its 40percent stake in M-Pesa, the mobile money transfer platform that began in Kenya and had been extended to Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, among other countries.

The South African Post Office distributes social grants to 10million recipients after the controversial contract between the South African Social Security Agency and Cash Paymaster Services ended earlier this year.

The Treasury awarded Vodacom with the exclusive R5billion contract to be the sole provider of mobile telecommunication services to the government, prompting the Competition Commission to launch an investigation into alleged abuse of dominance.

The tender also aimed to meet the government's 2016 target of reducing non-business spending by R25 billion in three years. “We are fully co-operating with the Competition Commission investigation. We are confident that the tender process ran above board; we are continuing with the job of rolling out services to the government,” Mashale said.

Vodacom is also digitising 80percent of all national departments and more than 90percent of all Gauteng departments as part of the contract.

“We have partnered with the property management organisation of the government to help digitise the way they run and operate building operations turning these buildings into smart buildings, enabling them to save on power, do proactive maintenance and thus increase the efficiency and life span of assets,” Mashale said.

In June it developed a Smart Citizen App called “My Ekurhuleni App” in collaboration with the Ekurhuleni local government. The Ekurhuleni App provides the municipality with a real-time two-way communication engagement platform with citizens to report and resolve service delivery issues from water to sanitation.

“Vodacom is using technology to bring about administrative efficiency and enhance communication between government and citizens in an effort to support service delivery,” Mashale said.

Vodacom shares closed 2.14percent lower at R125.50 on the JSE on Friday.

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