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It was announced today that Project Isizwe has successfully rolled out Phase one of its programme in the city of Tshwane, South Africa. By providing free Wi-Fi hotspots to low-income communities, the aim of this non-profit initiative is to harness the power of the internet to further education and economic upliftment throughout Africa.
Project Isizwe is an initiative founded and headed by former Mxit CEO, Alan Knot-Craig Jr., and is strongly supported by the city of Tshwane’s plan to provide greater internet access to the public and to participate in the mainstream economy.
Project Isizwe believes that access to the internet should be considered an essential service, like water or electricity. And just like water and electricity, it should be available to everyone, regardless of circumstance.
“This is a groundbreaking initiative for the city,” Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said. “Tshwane is igniting excellence through technology use. Rollout sites were strategically chosen due to the high concentration of learners, with emphasis on places of convergence.”
Phase 1 Free Internet Zone (FIZ) locations includes TUT Soshanguve, UP Hatfield, Church Square, Tshwane North College and Mamelodi Community Centre. Each of these locations has a coverage area of 18 000 square metres and is estimated to cater for approximately 5 000 users every 36 months.
So-called “On-Net” content is also provided with unlimited usage to all users and does not count towards their data cap of 250MB. On-Net focuses on providing information, communication and similar services to further education and economic upliftment, including educational tools and job-searching platforms.
Phase 2 will further provide 213 Free Internet Zones around Soshanguve, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville by the end of 2014. Furthermore, the hope is that all state schools and tertiary institutes will have free Wi-Fi by the end of 2016.
Knott-Craig Jr. notes the initiative’s regional aspirations to expand, by providing a “cookie-cutter” model to be used in other markets: “we’d like to show Africa, and the world, a model for how governments can provide free internet access in low-income communities, in the most frugal manner possible.”