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Rural connectivity

Access for all is a priority for Vodafone - and rural connectivity is a focus area for us.

There are strong economic benefits from increased 4G connectivity. Research from the World Bank shows that it can reduce the number of households in extreme poverty by 4.3 percentage points, mainly due to increases in labour force participation, particularly among women.

In 2022, in his role as commissioner to the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, our former Chief Executive, Nick Read, chaired a new working group to forge multi-stakeholder action to connect 3.4 billion people with smartphones by 2030.

In order to drive digital inclusion to the hardest-to-connect communities, we announced in March 2022 that Vodafone will invest US$190 million over the next five years to increase our 4G population coverage to an additional 80 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. This means that we have committed to increase our 4G population coverage from 54% (higher than the African average of 49%) to approximately 85% across six Sub-Saharan African countries. This pledge was made as part of the ITU Partner2Connect digital coalition and we will continue to develop other partnerships to help us achieve this goal.

We know that when people can access mobile internet, they are able to use services that improve their lives. For example 1.6 billion mobile subscribers have used mobile to monitor their health and 1.2 billion use mobile financial services.

The challenges arising from the digital divide between urban and rural areas across the EU have been brought into sharp relief by COVID-19, as those with reliable, high-speed connections have been better positioned to minimise their sense of social isolation, interruption to work and education to get essential items.

2022 Network deployment

Africa and Turkey229.564.8%

1excluding Vodafone Ziggo, including Turkey
2 excluding Safaricom

Rural connectivity in Europe and Africa

Within the EU, 25% of the population live in rural areas.

Rural areas lack the infrastructure to enable citizens to get online and access digital tools.

Poor connectivity makes it harder for rural businesses to connect to their customers and other parts of the value chain to leverage IoT productivity tools.

It also makes it harder for schools to teach digital skills, and healthcare professionals to exchange knowledge with central facilities.

New approaches and a blend of technologies will help us to deliver universal mobile coverage across Europe.

How next generation networks can help bridge the rural digital divide

For rural economies in Europe, next generation networks are the critical infrastructure that will provide opportunities to create new jobs, improve agricultural productivity and enhance local public services.


10% increase in broadband penetration is associated with an increase of GDP growth of 0.6% - 2.8%.

A review of 5G use cases conducted by IHS Markit estimated that global rollout of 5G could enable an approximate €11 trillion increase in global cross-sector output by 2035.

Rural business

Rural firms in the Province of Trento, Italy, increased their annual turnover by c.40% and value added by c.25% following the roll out of a public broadband delivery programme


80 new jobs created for every 1,000 new broadband users

See our strategy in action

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Contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

We aim to build a inclusive and sustainable digital society. Through our connectivity and digital innovations (SDG 9) and through our partnerships (SDG 17) we can accelerate and scale delivery across multiple SDGs.

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Vodafone is a leading advocate of sustainable development, using our global footprint to influence others to do the same. We work in partnership with governments and non-governmental organisations in many of our markets.

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

We drive energy efficiency in our networks. Vodafone is also committed to reusing, reselling or recycling 100% of our redundant network equipment.

End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Through our products and services, we are delivering greater empowerment and economic inclusion for our customers.

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