Smart Townships Communities - Cape Digital FoundationBy Emma Kaye

In spite of the relatively high cost of being connected, World Wide Worx research conducted in 2017 on Internet access across South Africa reveals that Internet penetration in the Western Cape currently stands at 75% – by far the highest in the country yet still, on a day-to-day practical basis, at an unsatisfactory level for the bulk of our population.  My mandate at Cape Digital Foundation is to stimulate the demand for connectivity and the uptake of digital tools, thereby getting as many people into the knowledge economy as possible. Since joining the Foundation last year April, the way that I am approaching my mandate is to focus very specifically on ‘Smart Townships/Communities’ and how we can address the unsatisfactory levels of Internet engagement with the bulk of the population.

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HappyHolidays2017 - Cape Digital FoundationThe Cape Digital Foundation team would like to wish all CDF’s friends, partners and collaborators a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year. We appreciate working with you and look forward to the coming year bringing great success to your organisations and our joint endeavours.

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Young urban citizens in Cape Town represent a powerhouse of innovation

The Cape Digital foundation is committed to addressing the growing need to prepare young people and adults across the Western Cape to live and work in what are becoming digitally-based urban communities – particularly within communities that have, so far, been underserviced by access to wide-spread, affordable Internet. These communities are the building blocks of smart cities.

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The leapfrog effect in Africa…

and how to harness the upside of disruption to create smart cities from the ground up

Innovation-Disruption - Cape Digital FoundationTruly smart cities are people-centred

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention, and building a people-centred smart city from the ground up, driven by the needs and innovations of its citizens is far more empowering and sustainable than attempting to engineer smart citizens from the top down – particularly in areas where people have been previous under-serviced by technology.  In their report on Re-thinking smart cities from the ground up, Nesta – The innovation foundation, states:  “Urbanisation has been viewed as a panacea for development by many emerging economies. However, if the ultimate goal of cities is to ensure sustainable growth and make citizens happy and fulfilled, they have to adopt and develop tools that tap into the skills and knowledge of citizens. To do this we need to redefine smart cities as people–centred smart cities, or ‘smart cities 2.0.’”

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The future of Khayelitsha is online – and three entrepreneurs are showing us how

Basic Human Needs - Cape Digital FoundationThe Cape Digital Foundation believes that access to the Internet is no longer a luxury.  It brings life-changing opportunities and should be considered one of the most essential public utilities along with water and electricity. Yet there is still much work to be done in terms of providing connectivity and facilitating partnerships on the ground in order to see all citizens in the Western Cape equipped with easy access to affordable Internet – particularly for people who come from communities that are currently mostly “offline”.

Here are three inspiring stories of local entrepreneurs, all from Khayelitsha, which is currently largely underserviced by Internet connectivity – all who have leaped many hurdles and who embrace being entrepreneurs in a digital world.

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What are the foundational building blocks in creating an all-inclusive digital society in South Africa?

Access to the Internet changes peoples’ lives. The fact that the internet has become an all-encompassing and essential part of global daily life has become self-evident.  It has been proven that access to the Internet has a direct and positive impact on individual lives and a region’s economic development in the digital age. And yet, according World Economic Forum White paper titled WEF Internet for All Framework Accelerating Access Adoption still more than 55% of the world’s population still do not use the internet.

Annual Digital Growth 2017 - Cape Digital Foundation

South Africa – Annual Digital Growth from January 2016 – January 2017 (We are Social)

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Factreton PS teacher using Snapplify1 - Cape Digital Foundation Factreton PS teacher using Snapplify2 - Cape Digital Foundation

In light of Factreton Primary School having been donated a pop-up digital classroom, the Cape Digital Foundation facilitated a partnership between the school and digital publishing solutions provider, Snapplify. Snapplify has equipped Factreton Primary with their ‘Snapplify for Education’ digital platform, making relevant digital content and teacher training available to the school. Snapplify’s digital library holds over 46000 titles – both books and articles for easy borrowing by learners and teachers alike.

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Internet Network - Cape Digital FoundationThe Internet is an undisputed force for economic growth and positive social change, and conventional wisdom widely acknowledges the link between universal, affordable Internet access and the well-being of people.

In under-resourced environments, mobile phones are the most efficient way for disadvantaged communities to access the benefits of the Internet; and social development in South Africa would benefit greatly from widespread, affordable Internet connectivity.

95 percent of all information is digitised and the Internet fuels:  Individual growth and self learning, self expression, connections with internet-based communities, civic engagement, grassroots political activism, civic engagement, unprecedented information access, tolerance, social inclusion, environmental awareness, new forms of social organisation.

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DisruptionAhead signboard - Cape Digital FoundationOn 11 July CDF Executive Director, Emma Kaye, attended a digital disruption workshop facilitated by Ian Merrington of Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) with Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) for the Western Cape Government. Emma had this to say,

“It was an honour to be invited to attend the workshop on digital disruption and how it will affect businesses and citizens of the Western Cape. Technology can no longer be seen as a vertical business sector but as a horizontal necessity across all areas of business. This is, and will continue to have, an accelerated economic, social and cultural impact on the Western Cape. It is inspiring to know that the Department of Economic Trade and Tourism are embracing the conversation to ensure that there is preparation and consideration for these inevitable changes.”

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