The Internet is an undisputed force for economic growth and positive social change, and conventional wisdom widely acknowledges the link between universal, affordable Internet access and the well-being of people.
In under-resourced environments, mobile phones are the most efficient way for disadvantaged communities to access the benefits of the Internet; and social development in South Africa would benefit greatly from widespread, affordable Internet connectivity.
95 percent of all information is digitised and the Internet fuels: Individual growth and self learning, self expression, connections with internet-based communities, civic engagement, grassroots political activism, civic engagement, unprecedented information access, tolerance, social inclusion, environmental awareness, new forms of social organisation.
In terms of worldwide infrastructure, it is forecast that by 2020 there will be, on average, one Wi-Fi hotspot for every 20 people. Is it possible that South Africa will see this level of internet access across all communities by 2020? The CDF believes that developing smart communities, cities and countries starts by creating a replicable digital ecosystem, built through providing affordable Internet access and nurturing a shared vision, engaging and educating all members of the ecosystem on how to use access to the Internet to positively change their lives.
Luvuyo Rani – recipient of the Schwab Foundation award for Social Entrepreneur of the Year, 2016
Luvuyo Rani’s Cape Town based company started as a single Internet café in Khayelitsha in 2004. He realised that there was a growing demand for computer training in the community and found that most of the people in townships struggled to find employment because they lacked computer literacy and so he began to offer basic computer skills and training. With the help of his partners Nandipha Matshoba and his younger brother Lonwabo Rani, the company has grown considerably over the years. Silulo Ulutho Technologies (which means “we bring value through technology”) has since empowered thousands of people in the Eastern and Western Cape. Now with branches across both provinces Silulo is a household name in Khayelitsha, acknowledged for empowering residents through convenient and affordable access to technology. Hundreds of Silulo graduates, 60% of whom are unemployed when they start, have gone on to work as call centre operators, IT sales representatives, and as Silulo employees.
Practically speaking, when people are empowered to use the internet to start businesses, create jobs and work together to transform their own futures, the knock on effect is that literally millions of people’s lives can be changed for the better.