March 26, 2020 / 7:41 AM / 8 days ago

South Africa's Telkom to close all its stores during lockdown

JOHANNESBURG, March 26 (Reuters) - South African telecom company Telkom will close all its stores during the 21-day national lockdown due to start from midnight, it said on Thursday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lockdown in an address on Monday, saying Africa’s most advanced economy needed to escalate its response to the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 709 people in the country.

“As a company, we wholeheartedly support this measure. There is no doubt that this is the best tool we have to flatten the curve and save lives,” said Telkom Consumer Chief Executive Serame Taukobong in a statement.

“We salute the strong action taken by the government.”

Customers will be able purchase airtime or data and LTE bundles through the Telkom website, app and at supermarkets, while compact routers can be purchased at Shoprite’s Checkers supermarkets.

The telecoms industry has experienced a spike in network data traffic in recent days after hundreds of schools and universities were forced to shut down.

While South African telecoms operators say their networks have been able to cope so far, there are fears of congestion as more people work from home.

Telkom said its call centres will remain open however, with fewer agents primarily working from home.

“We continue to work closely with our partners and suppliers to ensure all critical equipment to keep the network stable is in stock and available for use,” said Taukobong.

“Our technicians will be available to attend to critical work on the network and to support our customers as needed.” (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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