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Monica_55905 Dec 01

Masterclass: Project Isizwe - Wifi Technology for Africa Electrification

Masterclass: Project Isizwe - Wifi Technology for Africa Electrification image
Masterclass hosted by Project Isizwe at aef2020, during the Digital Energy Festival. 
Project Isizwe is an award-winning, non-profit organisation that works with the public and private sector to bring affordable public WiFi internet access to low-income communities across South Africa.

For the past seven years Project Isizwe has strived to fulfil the promise that WiFi has, to connect Africa. The foremost challenge being addressed is that of inequality when it comes to cost, and unravelling statistics myths. COO, Tim Genders explained: “For about 12 rand in South Africa, you can get 50 megabytes, which works out at $15 per gigabyte. It’s about 100 times more than a normal home connection that you have anywhere in the world.” Tim goes on to add that only 10% of homes actually have broadband piped into their home.

The given statistics of 60% also include mobile data connections (50%) used among low-income households being bought as prepaid bundles for inflated prices. “It’s not a question of economics, or a technical issue of getting these people online – it’s actually an injustice issue,” he continued.

The reaction from Project Isizwe has been to lobby the government and to build WiFi networks. Creating WiFi zones and increasing usership exponentially, the final network is then handed over to the city to continue running it. “We realise that, with scale, WiFi networks can really work and can really be cost-effective,” Genders said. The need now is for future partnerships and additional investment to achieve this level of scale and accessibility on a wider scale on the continent. Tim concluded: “It’s time to do the hard work of connecting them up to people’s homes. We’ve been lazy in thinking that mobile networks are going to do that. And they are, but at the cost of 100 times more, that’s unacceptable from an equality perspective.”

Watch their Masterclass: "Wifi Will Connect Africa" for a more in-depth understanding of the impact of their project and what it means within the context of electrifying Africa.

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