We have an excellent story – that we are incredibly proud of. Where we came from, where we have been and where we are going.
We are mostly going to focus on where we are going because in the future, with Isizwe, there is hope. And we like hope.
But we also like our friends to know where we came from. It is the story of a mother who goes through hardship, successes and lessons and gives birth to a child with all that legacy, all that information, in the hopes of it forging its sustainable path. Project Isizwe is the mother and the child- you guessed it, is Isizwe.
We would never be where we are today without the guidance and infrastructure that Project Isizwe provided us, but we know now that to create a sustainable business that will genuinely and limitlessly connect Africa – we need to adapt with the times. So here we are, learning and adapting and for our first walk, we are bringing R5 WiFi to South Africa; and while we know that this revolutionary product is going to change the landscape that we’re playing in – we want to give a bit of attention to the incredible journey we have walked to get here.
Project Isizwe started in 2013 and was founded on the premise that the internet and access to the internet is a basic human right. So where the government gives low-income communities, and rural communities free water and electricity, WiFi should be the same. Over three years, Project Isizwe and the City of Tshwane rolled out 1050 hotspots, connecting over 2.3 million successful connections to the internet as of 2016. This, however, proved not to be a sustainable model and not one that can stand the test of time.
Since the success of TshWiFi, Project Isizwe has partnered with many companies to bring WiFi to low-income communities, funded as part of their corporate social investments. Glencore Coal and Sishen Solar are two incredible examples of this. Free WiFi is still being funded and provided for by these companies, and people’s lives are being irrevocably changed daily and will continue to be for as long as there is funding from these companies. Project Isizwe, along with company and implementation partners, currently have 161 free WiFi-Hotspots connecting low-income communities.
In the last two years, Project Isizwe has needed to adapt in order to fulfil its vision – connect Africa and bridge the digital divide. A new sustainable model was born and created to achieve this. Internet costing, for the fortunate members of society, comes to an accumulated cost of around R10/Gb. But for those in the low-income or poverty bracket – the cost per Gb is over R100. This is why there is a digital divide; low-income communities cannot afford to connect. And it is not a sustainable option to provide free-WiFi in the long run, so what do we do?
We facilitate and enable communities to own their WiFi infrastructure – dramatically reducing costs and allowing for the upliftment of these communities. Our first step, our first walk, is bringing R5 WiFi to South Africa. Holding a coin in your hand now allows you access to the internet and all the opportunities it provides in a sustainable and everlasting way. This is what we mean when we talk about hope. Hope is now an R5 coin. Hope is education and upskilling. Hope is being able to create a CV and apply for jobs. Hope is Isizwe.