[Interview] Duduzile Mkhwanazi, CEO, Project Isizwe, South Africa
Duduzile Mkhwanazi is the Chief Executive Officer of South African non-profit organization, Project Isizwe, an organization dedicated to bringing internet access to the populace.
Please introduce Project Isizwe.
Project Isizwe is a non-profit organization which works with the public and private sector to bring internet access to people across South Africa by facilitating and enabling the deployment of free internet hotspots within walking distance in low-income communities for educational purposes, economic development and social inclusion. The best means of addressing inequality in our communities is the deployment of public -or privately funded Free WiFi throughout public spaces in low-income communities. To date over 4,4 million unique citizens have connected to more than 1500 Isizwe-enabled Free WiFi hotspots across South Africa.
Project Isizwe was founded in 2013 by Alan Knott-Craig jnr.
Where is Project Isizwe located?
4th Floor, The Firs, Cnr Bierman & Cradock Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196.
How is the organization funded?
Most of our projects are subsidized either by the local municipality or a private entity looking to invest in digital inclusion / connectivity as part of their social corporate investment profile.
What are the USPs of Project Isizwe?
Our unique points is that we both advocate for digital inclusion as well as facilitate free Wifi infrastructure. We also partner with other private and Ngo’s to use internet connectivity as a enabler for social intervention programmes.
What is the current state of internet accessibility in South Africa?
South Africa has the highest inequality index. For the poor, access to the internet is a privilage because they cannot afford it. The mobile data costs are excessively expensive. However, data has become a raw material for education, entreprenurship and empowerment. Project Isizwe’s vision is that internet access ought to be within a walking distance for every South African. We continue to receive many calls to connect other rural communities.
Who are your clients?
We consider our clients to be the individuals who benefit from the free public-access WiFi, but our current business partners include Glencore Mine, AWARE.org, The Social Collective company, Amafreezone, Digital Village and Yes4Youth. (Information attached).
What is the one ambition of Project Isizwe?
We hope to connect at least 10 million people to the internet in South Africa by 2021.
What does the organization need to grow and prosper?
There is a need for collaboration between the private and public sector to bridge the digital divide in South Africa and Africa at large. Funding for connectivity projects tends to be a challenge. Everyone recognises and agrees that digital inclusion is paramount to economic growth. However, very few invest in the infrastructure that will ultimately result in the empowerment and economic growth of our continent.
What is the latest news from your organization?
We have recently partnered with Glencore mine (a coal mining company) to connect mining communities of Emalahleni to free WiFi. We also partnered AWARE.org (a non-profit that advocates for responsible underage drinking) to use internet access as an enabler for their anti-underage drinking campaign in two peri-urban communities in South Africa.
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