Vodacom is one of the most recognised brands in South Africa. Carbon Calculated highlights some of the positive steps that Vodacom is taking as it continues its carbon management and reduction journey.

Vodacom Group Limited (Vodacom) is an African mobile and communications company providing voice, messaging, data and converged services to over 66 million customers. Vodacom placed its roots in South Africa and has steadily grown its operations to include networks in other African regions. The Group is majority owned by Vodafone and was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in 2009.

Vodacom’s countries of operations

Vodacom has measured the carbon footprint of its business operations in South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2009. Over the years – through the implementation of various mitigating activities – the Group has made impressive strides toward reducing its emissions at both group and country levels. Proof of this can be seen through Vodacom’s CDP results over the past 4 years, where the Group has consistently improved its scoring from 94B in 2013, 96B in 2014 and 2015, A- in 2016 and A- in 2017.  Vodacom is commended for being ahead of the curve in understanding the value that is brought to a company by measuring and managing their emissions.

As Trisha Govender – Senior Sustainability Specialist at Vodacom – says: “Measuring Vodacom’s carbon footprint is one of the steps that Vodacom takes to monitor its performance towards overall Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals. We constantly assess the risks that climate change present as well as the opportunities for mobile communication technologies to mitigate the impacts of climate change to ensure that we build resilience and continue to grow as a sustainable business. “

Trisha Govendar – Senior Sustainability Specialist at Vodacom

With mounting pressure internationally, the Group has been preparing for increased reporting demands and heightened government and consumer focus on its emissions. All of Vodacom’s countries have committed to specific national greenhouse gas reduction targets. The Group are consequently striving to reduce their overall footprint through both short-term and long-term strategies.

Some of Vodacom’s initiatives for reducing consumption and relative carbon include:

  • Introduction of SMART Metering to measure and monitor electricity usage. SMART metering provides real-time and detailed data, which encourages organisational behaviour change and reduction in consumption.
  • Introduction of SMART Logistics to track fleet vehicles remotely and alert drivers to the shortest route and optimum driving speeds. This initiative resulting in reduced fuel consumption and emissions.
  • Establishment of solar and battery power at base stations which reduces the need for purchased electricity and diesel in generators. Combined with this is the added benefits of servicing underdeveloped regions and providing consistent coverage to areas that experience unreliable grid power. These sites also require less maintenance and monitoring – further reducing operational costs and emissions
  • The installation of a solar panel array – the largest on a single building in Africa – on the roof of its Century City office in Cape Town. At its peak, it is expected to provide up to 75% of the building’s power, a saving of almost R965 000 per annum. A panel installed in the reception area of the building displays information such as power currently being produced and carbon emission savings, resulting in awareness, behaviour change and reduced consumption.
Vodacom’s solar array on the roof of its Century City building in Cape Town
  • Introduction of an ice plant to ensure effective utilisation of the excess energy generated by solar panels at its Century City offices. This plant produces ice which is used for cooling the building’s HVAC system.
  • Electronic billing to customers and clients has resulted in a decrease in their paper consumption.
  • Annual Internal feedback sessions given to the top excos to ensure the understanding of the emission trends and targets per country and further details such as the Paris Agreement, Science Based targets and carbon tax.

Vodacom believes that strategic advantage can be obtained through providing technological innovative solutions that can reduce operating costs from fuel and electricity consumption. This results in reducing carbon emissions and Vodacom’s impact on the environment while continuing to provide products and services that help customers to live and work more efficiently and flexibly.  This is in alignment with the CDP South Africa Climate Change 2016 Executive Summary where mention was made that “South African business needs to find ways to continually innovate and increase the scope and impact of their emission reduction activities”.

Vodacom should be commended for the continued work they are doing both locally and internationally to minimise their environmental impact, carbon and energy intensity of their operations. We are proud to be working in partnership with a company holding such a dedicated sustainability team, driven by Trisha Govender and Suraya Hamdulay and we congratulate them on their well-deserved 2017 CDP score.

– Written by: Jess Vujovic