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04_Vodacom

Telephonic time-shares

It's the "basic right of all people to have access to communications," declares Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig. South Africa's largest cellular-phone company has built a "shared use" distribution model for people who can't afford to buy a phone but can afford to make a call. Local entrepreneurs set up franchises in converted shipping containers equipped with five phones; they buy airtime from Vodacom for 8 cents a minute and sell it on a per-use basis for 12 cents. So Vodacom not only increases consumer connectivity (at government-mandated prices that are well below commercial rates), but also creates livelihoods for the nearly 2,000 leasing agents who typically register more than 5,000 calls per month.

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