It’s been an eventful year for Cape Digital Foundation and an incredibly rewarding one. We have put heart and soul into ensuring that the Foundation is restored to life, and are proud to say that with lots of hard work under our belts – and exciting developments across the year – like the proverbial phoenix, CDF has risen from the ashes.
We have spent the year committed to building Smart Townships – a concept of CDF’s creation formulated to encapsulate the essential metamorphosis of African megacities into using digital technologies and housing digitally savvy citizens. The relevance of Smart Townships is that they signal South Africa keeping in step with the rest of the world as we stay up-to-date and relevant in the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in Africa.
We believe in the relevance of Smart Townships – we believe that they are South Africa’s economic hubs of the future. How can we even begin to play a relevant part in 4IR if we are not digitally savvy citizens living in South Africa’s Smart Townships?
Since the start of 2018, Cape Digital Foundation has focused on facilitating, and advocating for, the growth of Smart Townships in the greater Cape Town area. Practically speaking, CDF has identified five fundamental pillars that are essential to the development of Smart Townships. These are: digital infrastructure, affordable connectivity, digital skills, local content and data collection.
Reliable infrastructure and affordable connectivity
Earlier in the year CDF chose Imizamo Yethu (IY) in the Hout Bay valley to be its Smart Township proof of concept, particularly because its well-delineated boundaries make accurate data collection and reporting possible. The Foundation chose partners, TooMuchWifi to ensure that reliable digital infrastructure and affordable connectivity is available to IY residents.
Smart Townships are built by citizens with digital skills – from the ground up
CDF believes that citizen co-creation will always play a vital role in the development of Smart Townships in South Africa. In July, CDF facilitated the first round of digital skills training in IY – partnering with University of the Western Cape’s WesternCapeCoLab for eInclusion and Social Innovation to bring digital skills training to 25 micro and small business owners.
CDF also believes that Smart Townships of the future will be led by the Smart Kids of today. In addition to advocating for educators within township Early Development Centres to have access to the Wifi in the classroom, CDF is in the process of making online educational content available to young people in Imizamo Yethu’s via IY’s own hyper-local content portal, IYtv. Watch this space for exciting news early next year.
Local content promotes the uptake of digital skills
In October, CDF launched IYtv, the first hyper local news portal of its kind in the Western Cape. IYtv is an online news portal featuring relevant and informative hyper-local content for IY residents. IYtv’s content is generated within IY by trained citizen-journalists, the first of whom, Owen Xubuzane, is growing in reputation as a newshound around town. For IY residents who use data supplied by TooMuchWifi, surfing IYtv is zero-rated.
Smart Townships are important in growing township economies
When looking at the year in review, year-to-date figures released in November by TooMuchWifi revealed that the equivalent of R17.8 million in data-spend had been saved within IY through access to affordable, reliable Wifi. This represents household income that has been freed up to be spent on other necessities. Moreover, by employing and training installers and customer support staff from within the IY community it also represents micro business owners and entrepreneurs who have been enabled to create income and spend it within the township economy, playing their part in boosting IY’s circular economy.
Smart Townships are vital to the South African economy
More than ever CDF believes that Smart Townships are South Africa’s vibrant economic hubs of the future – and that by providing affordable connectivity and digital skills to township entrepreneurs and small business owners, the next wave of digital disruption will happen from within the informal market. In 2019, we look forward to building on the Smart Township momentum gained in Imizamo Yethu – to scaling up and adding more technologies to our Smart Township building initiatives in IY – as well as to replicating this success in other townships in the Western Cape.