Classifieds giant Gumtree has partnered with Project Isizwe to bring free wi-fi to low-income communities across South Africa, starting with a large roll-out in the City of Tshwane. The initiative plans to create capacity to connect over 1 million people in the municipality by August 2014 via 219 “Free Internet Zones”, with even greater capacity planned for the 2015.
“As one of the biggest Internet sites in South Africa, the partnership was a natural strategic fit for Gumtree,” says Country Manager Johan Nel. “Our aim is not only to connect economically disadvantaged individuals to the Internet for the first time – we also have the larger goal of connecting those individuals with opportunities such as 60,000 jobs registered on our site, or to gain free exposure for their own businesses by tapping into the platform and our user base.”
The Isizwe Project was founded by Alan Knott-Craig Jnr as a non-profit organisation with the goal of bringing connectivity to people in low income communities through free Wi-Fi zones placed in various locations across the country.
The first phase of the project was launched in November 2013 at six campuses and activity hubs across Tshwane in what has been dubbed “a groundbreaking initiative for the city” by Executive Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa. The second phase will see an additional 213 Free Internet Zones roll out in Soshanguve, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville.
Each of the Free Internet Zone (FIZ) locations allow users with Wi-Fi enabled devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers to access free internet without any logins or passwords. A fair usage policy limits users to a data cap of 250MB per device per day and prohibits access to certain sites to protect against abuse of the free service.
However, once the cap has run out, users will still be able to access a specialised content portal known asTobetsa – which includes access to Gumtree’s portal for job seekers and educational information.
“Connectivity is crucial to the economy. In emerging nations such as China, Brazil and India, the Internet contributed as much as 11% to the growth of their GDP in recent years[i],” says Nel. “There are also social benefits, such as better access to services and healthcare, greater productivity and lower energy consumption due to improved efficiencies. This project is going to have a very positive impact on the community and we are extremely pleased to be a part of it.”
Project Isizwe and Gumtree plan to shortly roll-out the same initiative at an initial eight low-income schools in Atlantis and Robertson in the Western Cape, connecting 20 000 people before expanding further across the province.
“This is just another way Gumtree helps people find their success,” concludes Nel.
- Gumtree is by far South Africa’s favourite classifieds ite – it’s the 6th largest site in south Africa and attracts close to 9 million visits montlhy, with over 2.4million unique visitors on both mobile and desktop (Effective Measures, April 2014). Gumtree is a well-established international brand and forms part of the eBay Classifieds Group. www.gumtree.co.za
- Project Isizwe is a non-profit organisation which aims to bring the internet to people across South Africa by facilitating the roll-out of Free Wi-Fi for public spaces in low income communities. Isizwe helps Governments plan, roll-out and maintain Free Wi-Fi networks and the non-profit structure allows for the pooling of bandwidth, the sourcing of local installers, and the co-operation with Governments without excessive mark-ups. www.projectisizwe.org
An animated explainer video can be viewed on Youtube here
[i] McKinsey Global Institute. Whitepaper: The Great Transformer The impact of the Internet on economic growth and prosperity