Mobile telecommunications company Vodacom, has joined forces with an ICT entrepreneur in Khayelitsha to drive mobile internet connectivity in the Western Cape. Through this partnership, Silulo Ulutho Technologies, a small entrepreneurial business focusing on ICT solutions in the townships, hopes to make internet accessible to tens of thousands of people who currently have little or no connectivity.
Luvuyo Rani, founder of Silulo Ulutho Technologies, says that there is a high demand for basic ICT services that can benefit small businesses and local communities in townships such as Khayelitsha.
Rani built Silulo from an informal business operation selling refurnished computers from the boot of his car. The business is now a multi-million Rand business with 16 centres in the Western Cape, nine of which are internet cafés and seven training centres.
Pieter Uys, Vodacom CEO comments “This partnership is in line with our strategy to promote the growth of both entrepreneurship and the development of mobile technology in the Western Cape. Silulo will also help us to achieve our goal of putting the power of the internet into all people’s hands and it is with this in mind that we are supporting Silulo.”
Vodacom believes that the partnership will extend the company’s footprint into non-traditional commercial areas. “By making it easy for people in townships to have access to mobile technology, we are able to extend our footprint and achieve further growth in these areas. This, coupled with the imminent introduction of more affordable smartphones will change the digital landscape and increase our market share,” says Uys.
As part of the partnership, Vodacom has refurbished two Silulo stores in Khayelitsha and has provided its own in-store products to supplement Silulo’s current ICT offerings. This will be rolled out to Silulo’s other stores as well.
Vodacom will also provide product and mobile technology training support to all of Silulo’s staff. Besides the essential mobile technology training that the staff will receive, they will also have access to Vodacom’s management and customer service training.
“Customers are central to our success and at the very heart of everything we do so it makes sense to extend our global best practice customer service and management training to our new partner and his team,” says Uys.
Cape Town has been cited as the most entrepreneurial city in South Africa and currently SMME’s account for 50%** of the city’s output. The majority of the city’s economic activity is driven by small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
“Small businesses are essential to the development of South Africa and the economy as a whole. For any business to succeed, access to ICT is essential. Vodacom is committed to putting the power of the internet into people’s hands through partnerships with businesses such as Silulo. This partnership also forms part of our strategy to drive the development of the SMME sector,” says Uys.
Vodacom sees the integration of mobile internet into all communities in South Africa as a necessary element of its evolution and growth.
In recent papers commissioned by Vodacom’s parent company, Vodafone, on Making Broadband Accessible For All * there is a clear indication that telecommunications plays a major role in driving socio-economic development.
“Access to the internet via mobile phones is one of the best ways to introduce internet usage to all South Africans, regardless of their financial standing or location within the country. There are challenges, like the cost of data services and the slow introduction of cheaper smartphones, but these are not insurmountable, especially if we work closely with industry players, government and the regulators.
“The other challenge is access to data services in rural and non-traditional commercial areas, and this is where our partnership and support of Silulo comes in, we are very excited about the potential that this initiative can unlock,” concludes Uys.On an average day, between 150 – 300 people use the internet café at Silulo and there are 850 students currently doing basic computer training with an additional 60 students in advanced training.