Q&A with the Winners: Tebogo Mosalakatane

In this Q&A, Tebogo Mosalakatane talks about his team’s solution — Digital Skills for Population in Remotest Areas— which won the 2nd PLACE Community Enablement Concept in the 2022 Connecting the Unconnected Challenge.

1.Please summarize your winning solution

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Connecting the Unconnected in remotest areas of Africa requires comprehensive solutions. Our goal is to bridge the digital divide in the remotest, isolated undeserved communities. We propose a solar powered mobile internet café which will also act as a digital skills training center. This is for communities which are off-grid and do not have access to internet services due to their geographical location.  They are cut off from the rest of the world making it difficult to access vital information. We believe that the solution will empower and transform these communities. The project solution involves setting up a mobile information and communication technology (ICT) skills training center which also acts as an internet café housed in a shipping container and powered by solar energy. The size of the container is 12meters/40feet and can fit 20 computers and accommodate 20 students, a printer, fax machine and wireless internet router.  This will be powered by 10 solar panels placed on the roof. The basic skills that will be taught include introduction to computers focusing on the following aspects: Computer components, Microsoft word, Microsoft power point and Microsoft Excel.  Our solution links the unconnected communities with the global village, and we believe when armed with digital skills they can use the internet efficiently. The solution also allows these communities to benefit from the global economy and virtual opportunities and reap the benefits of new economic and social opportunities of ICT, including employment and access to money. The initiative can provide wireless solar powered internet access with high-speed connectivity in hard-to-reach areas. This will reduce the cost of internet access as a single connection can be shared by many villagers when they visit the mobile internet café.

2.What is the most unique/innovative aspect about your approach?

It provides an inexpensive way of delivering internet access to the remotest areas, and at the same time empowers people by giving them digital skills that are required for today’s jobs, all without the need for brick and mortar locations to operate, which makes it ideal to be scaled in other countries. It also eliminates the issue of electricity as it uses clean sustainable solar energy which is ideal for remote areas and benefits the environment by reducing carbon footprint.

3.What did you enjoy most about the CTU Competition and Summit Program?

Image courtesy Tebogo Mosalakatane

Taking part in this competition has offered us an opportunity to think critically, solve and tackle a global problem that is affecting over two (2) billion population. We were able to develop our concept into a concrete plan, come up with a comprehensive solution that is tailor made and targeted to underserved communities. The feedback we received from the judges gave us real practical insights into how our solution will fare in the real world. It opened multiple opportunities such as international visibility, access to grant money prizes which will go a long way towards putting us on the map and getting us ready to meet investors. The summit provided us with a unique platform to discuss, network with other like-minded purpose driven social entrepreneurs around the world, as well as share ideas and learn from industry leaders on the issue being addressed. By participating in the summit, we felt a sense of pride of being a global citizen where we were adding value to globalization issues, we are facing today

4.What are your plans for executing your concept?

For this to be successful, we acknowledge the importance of involving community leaders and conducting workshops to sensitize them on the benefits of the project. There is also need to raise funds and mobilize potential partners and relevant stakeholders to work with such Ministry of Rural development, ABSA Bank, United States Agency for International Development, Ministry of Youth and Education, Organizations that donate computers such as Labdoo, and Computer exchange.

5.Have you estimated how many people would be impacted if your solution was implemented

When implemented, we anticipate equipping 10000+ people with digital skills and affordable internet access.

6.Anything else you would like to share?

The project will transform a lot of lives in unconnected isolated underserved communities as it will go a long way in providing socio-economic empowerment and development. The initiative brings these communities into the digital age but most of all it gives them the opportunity to have a voice and be recognized in the global digital community.