Up to 1.5 million South African township residents in the Gauteng Province are set to gain access to WiFi through cafe and informal tavern hotspots created by an open access WiFI provider.
VAST Networks say “affordable alternatives to access the Internet” will impact greatly on “opportunities for socio-economic empowerment specifically within township communities”.
IT News Africa quotes Grant Marais, CEO at VAST Networks who says affordability is “a key inhibitor to internet adoption”. VAST places specific emphasis on underprivileged communities and how WiFi access could boost entrepreneurial activities, support access to education, enhance skills development and drive job creation.
In building on an existing 2,000 high-density locations in transport hubs, malls, office parks and townships across South Africa, VAST is now focused on providing at least 1.5 million people in townships in Gauging with more options for affordable internet access.
Marais says his company’s footprint is growing daily in locations in areas such as Diepsloot, Alexandra and Katlehong with plans to roll out hundreds more by mid-2017.
One of these locations is V-Cafe in Diepsloot. Collen Kekana, co-owner, says many of his customers visit to use the Internet. They use it for various purposes, from job applications to news updates to staying in touch via social media. “What always puts a smile on my face is when they realise that their internet speeds are actually faster than those available in some of the more affluent suburbs,” he says.
Marais likens Internet access to a basic human right. “The substantial financial benefits of such access is evident with some of the fastest growing and most successful businesses in the world being mobile device manufacturers and founders of social networks. Not only does internet access deliver individual and business value but it also plays a vital role in overall economic growth; stats show that for every 10% of Internet penetration, a country’s GDP grows by 1.28%.”