Connecting citizens in partnership with the Western Cape Government
The Western Cape Government is taking bold steps to enable province-wide connectivity. In context of the Western Cape Broadband Initiative, Project Isizwe - in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism - has enabled Free WiFi at 8 public secondary schools and their surrounding communities in the Atlantis and Robertson areas.
Project Isizwe’s effective, low-cost and high-success WiFi solution has been delivering high-speed internet access to more than 30 000 people in the two towns, primarily serving the poor communities around the 8 high schools.
In Atlantis 6063 learners and 108 educators are able to benefit from the Free WiFi. The schools sites which have Free Internet Zones (FIZ) are Saxonsea Secondary, Atlantis Secondary, Robinvale High School and Proteus Secondary School. 27 000 citizens in the adjacent communities are able to access the WiFi, a first for many of them in 2014.
In Robertson, at Nkqubela Secondary, Masakhehe High, Vergesig Secondary and Langeberg Secondary schools more than 3000 learners and educators have access to the internet. The service also covers the nearby communities, providing online access to over 20 000 citizens.
Each Free WiFi user is allocated 250MB per day after which they have unlimited access to the free content provided on the specialised Tobetsa portal, available for unlimited access. The zero rated content provided for the Western Cape implementation focussed on serving the schools educational information including CAPS aligned technology-powered teaching and learning content.
Fun online mathematics learning in Gugulethu
Fun Learning for Youth (FLY) is a non-profit organisation centred around a team of young professionals who volunteer their time to make a meaningful contribution to the development of mathematics learning for underprivileged learners in the Cape Town townships of Gugulethu, Langa and Khayelitsha.
Enabled by generous funding from Coronation, Project Isizwe brought the JL Zwane Community Centre online in 2014. The centrally located Community Centre in Gugulethu caters for secondary school learners from the surround communities, who receive mathematics tutoring and mentorship from the 50 volunteers who aim to empower the young students. The FLY programme encourages learners to remain in school beyond Grade 10, helping them to perform well in mathematics so that they are able to obtain a bachelor pass in Grade 12 and thereafter access tertiary education.
The Project Isizwe provided Free WiFi supports the FLY programme and has brought 3000 users online in the low-income communities surrounding the JL Zwane Community Centre.
Open Society Foundation and Project Isizwe promote Free WiFi in Cape Town townships
The Open Society Foundation South Africa (OSF-SA) is a grant-making organisation committed to promoting the values, institutions and practices of an open, non-racial and non-sexist, democratic, civil society.
The high mobile data costs and lack of broadband infrastructure in South Africa’s townships continue to perpetuate the digital divide. While some of us depend on access to the internet daily, many are struggling for basic services and also an opportunity to become digitally connected. For too many people in South Africa, using the internet has turned into a privilege, when it should be a right.
Project Isizwe and OSF-SA have established two Free Internet Zones (FIZs), one each in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha serving local residents, in an attempt to kick start a ‘bottom-up’ campaign for free and subsidised internet access for people living in under resourced communities.
The intent behind the project is to galvanise a nationwide call for free and subsidised internet for all people living in South Africa in under resourced communities. Despite having significant mobile penetration, the 2011 census figures show that more than 68% of South Africans have no access to the internet, making them unable to access key information about their lives and communities.
Residents of Khayelitsha and Gugulethu are now able to use the internet. The Gugulethu Taxi Rank FIZ serves the local population of 170 562, with 11 schools in the surrounding area. At the Khayelitsha Taxi Rank, the FIZ has the potential to provide the 329 005 residents and 5 schools with connectivity.
Each FIZ provides 250MB of Free Wifi to each user per day, following which users are able to access a range of educational and employment content via the free, unlimited access content portal, Tobetsa.
The project is by no means a comprehensive solution to the bigger issues of affordability and accessibility of the internet for ordinary South Africans; this requires collaboration between government and private companies that ordinarily provide such services, coupled with a strong policy framework that enables affordable access on a permanent basis. In the context of South Africa Connect and the Western Cape Broadband Initiative, this project is contributing a strong case for wider rollout in all communities.
Developing and enabling a safer Western Cape
Based out of the Zolani Centre in Nyanga, the Safety Lab is mandated to identify, develop and test innovative safety and security solutions. The Western Cape government supports the ‘whole of society’ philosophy that solving complex problems requires cross-sector insights and commitment.
The Safety Lab was established as an ‘innovation hub’: operationally independent to experiment rapidly, cheaply and responsibly; and to navigate across government, private sector and civil society. Safety Lab intends to be a creative, evidence-based and methodologically agnostic agency driving tangible social innovation in the context of safety and security.
Key to enabling innovation and in support of Safety Lab’s mission, Project Isizwe has established a Free Internet Zone (FIZ) at the Zolani Centre in Nyanga. Recognising the power of the internet in supporting research and innovation in services like safety and security provision, Project Isizwe and Safety Lab have enabled the internet service to serve 2000 daily unique users. The requirement for this FIZ was to design a high-utilisation service which could serve up to 1000 concurrent users.
Free WiFi Users in Nyanga receive 250MB of data per device per day and thereafter have unlimited access to the zero-rated free educational and employment enabling content provided on the Tobetsa portal.
The provision of Free WiFi to the Nyanga residents surrounding Safety Lab, aligns to the organisation’s primary focus on serving poorer areas where communities typically face higher levels of violence but are less able to mobilise community and private sector responses.