The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, will visit Zenzeleni Community Networks project, which is South Africa's first legal community-owned Internet service based at Mankosi Village, 60 km outside Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

 

The Minister’s visit will take place on Thursday, 5th  March 2020.

 

The project, which includes the Mankosi and Zithule cooperatives, was established using a social innovation model that provides communication networks to underserviced rural communities. 

 

The members of the community living in the mountainous region of the Eastern Cape have been successfully using affordable solar-powered, Wi-Fi telecommunication networks since 2012.

 

For R25 a user can enjoy unlimited Wi-Fi data valid for 32 days, with download speed of 2 048 Kbps.

 

To date, the Zenzeleni Community Networks has connected three schools, three businesses, two non-government organisations and over 3 000 users.  In the past two months alone, it has registered network traffic of 3 000 gigabytes.

 

Minister Nzimande said that the DSI’s commitment to improve and advance the well-being of South Africans is demonstrated in various prioritised grassroots projects aimed at unlocking economic development opportunities for marginalised and excluded communities.

 

"Through this project we have ensured that we provide the Mankosi community with technical and related skills, including support to install and operate their own communication services and infrastructure, allowing communities to access a more reliable network at a cheaper price than the current market offerings," said Minister Nzimande.

 

The Minister said this successful model should be replicated in other rural communities because it provides affordable connectivity and ability to reach out where it was not feasible for large telecommunications companies.

 

“These community networks can contribute to the empowerment of marginalised population by fostering the local economy, creating local employment and small, micro and medium enterprises, and contributing to the social cohesion of the community they serve,” emphasised Minister Nzimande. 

 

The Zenzeleni Community Networks project, is supported by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) in partnership with University of the Western Cape and implemented by the Technology Innovation Agency.

 

The Minister’s visit will take place as follow:

 

Date: Thursday, 5th  March 2020

 

Venue : Mankosi Village, 60 km outside Mthatha  (Eastern Cape)

 

Time: 11h00

 

For media interviews and coordination contact Veronica Mohapeloa at 083 400 5750

 

-End-

 

Issued by:

Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology

DST Building (53), CSIR Campus

Meiring Naude Road

Brummeria

Pretoria

 

Enquiries

Ishmael Mnisi 0663078859