For South Africa’s communities to become economically active, it is essential that they have access to information and communication technology (ICT).
The long-lamented ‘digital divide’ remains alive and well, but an increasing number of companies are realizing the benefit of fast-tracking digital access for their workforce and neighbouring communities.
CanPro, a provider of digital workplace development and monitoring solutions, recently assisted mining company Ivanplats to do just that. Ivanplats’ Platreef platinum, gold, and nickel mining project is based in Mokopane, in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. Its operations are at the heart of a large community marked by socioeconomic challenges such as youth unemployment.
Ivanplats had sought permission from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to develop and implement a multi-faceted ’Youth Digital Communication Project’ in Mokopane Municipality as part of its Social and Labour Plan. This aims to digitally activate the external mining communities, local businesses, and youth enterprises as well as Ivanplats’ internal workforce to facilitate meaningful social and economic participation.
A spin-off for local unemployed youth is the opportunity to become providers of digital services in the area. With phase one in progress, 17 local youth enterprises have already trained over 3000 community members to connect to locally-provided free WiFi and utilize online services via a zero-rated community portal aptly named Maru A Mokopane, or Clouds of Mokopane.
Maru A Mokopane offers zero-rated access to opportunities, news, a local business directory, a feedback section, eLearning, and online banking as well as 300 MB daily to search any other sites.
Managing Director of Ivanplats, Dr Patricia Makhesha, describes some of the strategic goals of the project: ’We aim to build a common platform from which our internal and external communities can communicate and collaborate and have access to information such as news and alerts about matters that are important to them or present opportunities. At the same time, the community will have constant access to employment and procurement information at Ivanplats.’
Key stakeholders have expressed their enthusiasm for the project, which officially launched on Youth Day this year. Mogalakwena Municipality Acting Mayor, Councillor Pheladi Olifant says: ’The internet connection Ivanplats will be providing to our villages will become an essential resource in today’s modern economy that none of us can afford to live without.’
Liesel Kirsten, Managing Director of CanPro, says: ’Ivanplats is the most recent manifestation of our solution that is designed to help companies bridge the digital divide with meaningful, user-friendly, and accessible digital services delivered via customized community portals. As our network of clients expands, we are also in a better position to foster collaboration between communities and engage other companies who wish to add value in particular locations by investing in digital services for their stakeholders.’
Sheryl Thiel Consulting