Cape Town – Three months after a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Think WiFi and GreenCape to deliver Wi-Fi enabled solar street lights in Witsand, Atlantis, the first Wi-Fi hotspots have been installed.
“The nationwide lockdown has not paused the roll out of our fast, free Wi-Fi to communities in need. In collaboration with GreenCape’s Alternative Service Delivery Unit, we've been working hard at providing Wi-Fi to the residents of the Witsand area,” said Marnus Kruger. ThinkWiFi COO. “We have deployed 10 access points throughout the Witsand community that have gone live. Currently, we are providing access to over 2 000 people per day.”
ThinkWifi, is a Cape Town based service provider who are building world-class public wi-fi infrastructure to provide free, uncapped Wifi in communities, townships, universities and transportation hubs across South Africa. Their innovative business models allow for both the infrastructure and the connectivity to be funded without the end user paying a cent.
They are currently active in 161 locations across Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Delft, Elsies River, and Philippi. It is their mission is to empower people, to work with local communities to find employment solutions and work with organisations to bring digital skills education to each community. Their ultimate aim is to close the digital divide whilst laying the foundations for the 4th industrial revolution for all under-served communities in South Africa.
Through a co-design process with GreenCape’s Alternative Service Delivery Unit (ASDU) and the Witsand leadership the concept of adding a solar light to the wifi connection points was discussed. ThinkWifi had already started the process of embracing this innovation into their service offering, which will be deployed once lockdown regulations will allow.
Directly linked to GreenCape’s vision for a thriving prosperous Africa mobilised by the green economy, the Alternative Service Delivery Unit (ASDU) vision is equal and unhindered access, for all South Africans, to an open, technically sound, socially inclusive and commercially resilient energy economy.
ASDU’s service delivery approach is built to allow for increased stakeholder buy-in, by providing stakeholders with a collective space to re-imagine service provision solutions in new and innovative ways. Together with key stakeholders, the ASDU team designs and adapts the process of service delivery in close collaboration with existing local community organisations, academia, government and industry.
“This is resilient urbanism, which embraces the everyday urban reality, explores means of improving what already exists in an incremental way and creates the space for true innovation and resilience,” said Jack Radmore, Energy Programme Manager at GreenCape. “Co-design, social choice and the exploration of new approaches to innovative service delivery offers a unique opportunity and has vast implications for how the infrastructure of the future must be conceptualized, designed and operated.”
The partnership with Think WiFi originated after ASDU enumerated more than 2 500 households in the Witsand informal settlement. This was done with a focus on creating a strong social foundation for service delivery, building an inclusive platform for local community members to express infrastructure preferences, and to understand the communities’ propensity to pay for infrastructure services while also mapping existing infrastructure assets. From this process, the Witsand community prioritised area lighting and connectivity as their most pressing energy related needs.
“It was a great delight for me to visit the site of the first installed Wi-Fi hotspots in Witsand after witnessing the MOU signing a few months ago,” said Alderman James Vos, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management. “The promotion of innovation and partnership focused on improved conditions, service delivery, and well-being change the current lack of infrastructure in these areas into an opportunity for empowerment,” he added.
The MoU also outlines that there will be continued collaboration on new sites to explore the overlap of energy services and connectivity, in this case the provision of public Wi-Fi infrastructure.
Over the past three years, GreenCape has launched and funded three ASDU sites, with interventions ranging from Wi-Fi enabled solar street lights to home solar systems. These three sites cover ~3 500 homes and ~11 550 people.