Prior the outbreak of #COVID-19 in South Africa, the foundation in partnership with Mamaila Tribal Authority, Kichose Telecoms, ISOC Gauteng and Zenzeleni Community Network hosted a workshop; learning exchange on community networks at Mamaila Tribal hall in Mamaila village. The workshop was about inducting Mamaila Project Steering Committee and also to facilitate a learning exchange with the British High Commission mentees mentored by Zenzeleni Community Network.
In the process, the vision of Mamaila Community Network was shared with Steering Committee and discussed their roles and responsibilities in order for committee members to provide support to the initiative and to ensure that their villages participate in the project.
“Our main focus is in digital infrastructure, specifically the creation of WI-FI hotspots and the provision of educational content as well as digital skills development targeted at rural communities”, said Modjadji Magoro, the founding member of Zuri Foundation.
In South Africa, the impact of the digital divide is mostly felt by citizens in rural provinces. Therefore, it is for reason why Zuri Foundation aims to reduce the cost of communications and internet connectivity for marginalized communities in Sekgosese that are located on the periphery of the telecommunication infrastructure such as fiber and ADSL.
“Zuri Foundation aims to bridge the rural digital divide by promoting and advocating for deployment of community networks infrastructure as a sustainable alternative to connect the unconnected. Mamaila Community Network will close the digital divide by providing affordable and reliable connectivity to communities within Mamaila Tribal Authority and beyond”, said Magoro.
She further said they aim to establish a mobile media centre and digital media hub in order to create a sustainable ecosystem for the Zurifi network.
“The majority of our youth in Mamaila villages lack access to internet connectivity. We therefore believe that access to the internet will provides access to socio-economic opportunities. We fully support this project because our youth will have access to information, jobs and education services”, said Oscar Mokgola on behalf of Mamaila Royal Council during the workshop.
Last year, Zuri Foundation with the support of Kichose Telecoms and in partnership with Mamaila Tribal Authority has deployed a community network which provided access to internet in Roerfontein village. The hotspots were created at Khudugane secondary school, Vutlhari disability Centre and Moratabatho church as a pilot project to determine the social, economic and technical viability of the intervention.
During the pilot phase, the Foundation provided free access to internet including access to online educational content such as the Khan Academy.
Currently they are on expansion phase of the network that requires the construction of a telecommunication tower in order to ensure that the project meets all the technical requirements as per lessons learned from the pilot project. The construction of the core infrastructure will enable Mamaila Community Network to deliver high speed internet connectivity to Mamaila six villages and beyond.
The workshop was supported by Kichose Telecoms, Zenzeleni NPC, ISOC Gauteng, Powerron Agriculture Consulting (Pty) Ltd and Mamaila Tribal Authority.