South African Team Runner Up in Mozilla’s Equal Rating Innovation Challenge
7 April 2017
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, April 4, 2017/ -- Afri-Fi: Free Public WiFi has been announced as the “Runner-Up” in Mozilla’s Equal Rating Innovation Challenge (www.EqualRating.com) with a funding award of US$75,000. With this global competition, Mozilla called for creative and scalable ideas to provide affordable access to the full diversity of the open internet. Mozilla offered awards, totaling USD 250,000 in funding and expert mentorship to bring these solutions to the market. It received 100 submissions from 27 countries. The final shortlist of best five entries was chosen by an esteemed panel of expert Judges (www.EqualRating.com/judges) from around the world.
Afri-Fi: Free Public WiFi is an extension of the highly awarded and successful Project Isizwe, where 2.9 million users all access 500MB of free daily WiFi data. The key goal of Afri-Fi is to create a sustainable business model by linking together free wifi networks throughout South Africa and engaging users meaningfully with advertisers so they can "earn" free wifi.
“The team has proven how their solution for a free internet is supporting thriving communities in South Africa,” concluded Marlon Parker, Founder of Reconstructed Living Labs, on behalf of the jury. “Their approach towards community building, partnerships, developing local community entrepreneurs and inclusivity, with a goal of connecting some of the most marginalized communities, are all key factors in why they deserve this recognition and are leading the free Internet movement in Southern Africa,” said Parker.
In reaction to the “Runner-Up” award, Tim Genders, COO of Project Isizwe, said: “The divide between rich and poor is being defined as your ability to access the Internet. Free wi-fi allows everyone to gain access. Free wi-fi allows the poor to play on the same field as the rich. Free wi-fi removes the barriers to education, social inclusion, skills development and job applications. In short, free wi-fi empowers.” Genders added: “Our next steps are to make free wi-fi scalable and self-sustaining through an advertising model. We want to make free wi-fi the new medium to get messages out to communities.”
In Africa, availability and affordability of Internet access is one of the new grand challenges that the continent is faced with. “I was particularly delighted to see strong African representation in the semi-finalists,” said Omobola Johnson, the former Communication Technology Minister of Nigeria and Partner of TLcom Capital LLP, “the solutions were contextually innovative and they all emphasized a strong need to collaborate; big companies, local governments, rural communities, Telco’s, all working together to implement solutions where each of them come out a winner. This unique approach provides a strong platform for sustainability, and I do hope the prize money will go to further scale these projects and extend knowledge gained to other parts of the world with similar context.”