Cape Town-based township internet service provider TooMuchWifi has expanded its operations in the Western Cape province to three more communities.
It says it is bringing affordable and reliable internet connectivity to Mbekweni, a settlement between the towns of Wellington and Paarl, where there is a growing demand, and extending its reach to the communities of Atlantis on the West Coast and Delft near Blue Downs, where it already has a footprint. This is in line with its mission to bridge the digital divide that prevents many communities from entering the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Not only is South Africa the most unequal country in the world, according to the World Bank, but the basic services needed to start bridging the economic gap – namely Internet access in poor and underserved areas – are under serious threat. The lack of access to technology and digital literacy skills has created a major gap between those who are connected and those who are not.
A major concern is that the digital divide is increasing education inequality, which ultimately has an impact on employability. The benefits of bridging the technological divide are immense. It can help to empower communities by giving them the tools they need to participate fully in the digital economy. Yet, millions of people from low-income communities across the country do not have access to affordable and reliable internet access.
“We believe it is our duty to help those that need it most, like people living in Mbekweni,” says Tauriq Brown, CEO of TooMuchWifi. “This settlement is home to seasonal workers who labour the fruit farms surrounding the Berg River, and who are currently trapped in a web of semi- or unemployment and inaccessibility to resources that can improve their lives and livelihoods. Currently, they are excluded from opportunities to contribute more meaningfully to the economy and cannot improve their circumstances.”
TooMuchWifi is a wireless Internet service provider (ISP) developed specifically for low-income individuals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in under-served communities, and dedicated to providing affordable and reliable internet within aspirational communities. It currently operates across the Western Cape, servicing 40 low-income areas, with a customer base of 400,000.
“Technology can resolve some of the challenges faced by township residents and those living in low-income settlements, including transforming them into more inclusive micro-economies,” says Brown. “We want to provide affordable, fast and reliable connectivity that these communities need to become self-sufficient and to improve their quality of living. TooMuchWifi’s Uncapped and various Hotspot options are a good fit for residents and businesses in this area. Our research shows that this is the resource most needed right now to enable transformation.”
TooMuchWifi is also expanding its operational reach within Atlantis, where it is already a household name, to encompass the suburb of Saxonsea, and in Delft to include Delft South, one of the fastest-growing communities in Cape Town.
TooMuchWifi has spent the past seven years giving communities access to extremely affordable Wifi through its uncapped and hotspot options. The company has been able to meet its expansion plans through investment from the MIC (Mineworkers Investment Company) and Bamboo Capital, both of which are social impact investors who share the company’s vision and commitment to making internet access available to all.
“The business has grown exponentially, at 300% year-on-year since 2016, and my highly skilled team and I are planning to roll out expansion across the country, to reach exponentially more people. The idea is that this will encourage more job creation and give more opportunities to many more people.
“We need to move quickly if we are going to close the digital divide in our country or prevent it from getting even larger. This is a travesty which must be avoided at all costs. My team and I believe we have a key role to play, and we urge others in the industry to do the same.
As a case in point, research by TooMuchWifi has shown that residents of Mbekweni and similar settlements were paying up to R600 per month for Wi-Fi access. By using the ISP’s service, that expense can be cut in half, bringing educational and economic opportunities within easier reach.
* For more information, visit www.toomuchwifi.co.za