Google has announced the launch and availability of Google Station for the Cape Flats community in the Cape Town, South Africa. This was announced during the first Google for South Africa event after similar events have previously been held in Nigeria.
The free Wi-Fi initiative is, according to Google, a program to provide fast, free and open Wi-Fi to the Cape Flats in partnership with ThinkWifi, an Internet Service Provider.
“By gaining access to information via the internet, we hope that people in these communities will get a more equal opportunity to learn and develop and live more empowered lives,” said Nitin Gajria, Google Africa director.
Before South Africa, in 2018, at the Google for Nigeria event, the company announced that it will be providing free high-speed Internet access via Wi-Fi hotspots Nigeria through its Google Station service. The South African announcement as well as the previous Nigeria announcement are said to be part of Google’s “Connecting The Next Billion” to the Internet initiative.
Google Station is now available in over 100 locations across Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Delft, Elsies River, Philippi and more.
“Think WiFi are passionate about providing fast, free, reliable, uncapped WiFi in underserved communities- giving people access to more on-line resources and more opportunities. Through our partnership, Think WiFi and Google will provide unlimited Wi-Fi access to communities in townships, public areas, universities, transportation hubs and shopping malls, laying the foundations for broad-based, inclusive participation in the benefits industry 4.0 brings,” said Janine Rebelo, Think WiFi CEO.
As Google South Africa also echoed, the areas at which they are first deploying their free Wi-Fi initiative are some of the most underserved communities in South Africa, with high unemployment and crime rates. As such, it is worth emphasizing that the availability of free and fast Internet in these areas could go a long way to not only making useful information available to these communities but will likely also have a positive impact on socio-economic activity.
Another notable social impact announcement at the Google for South Africa event was that the company will be investing $1 million as part of its 5 year commitment to non-profits and social enterprises, to support the economic empowerment of girls and women in South Africa.
“One of the key focus areas of our programmes has been the empowerment of women and minority groups, and I’m happy to say that 48% of the people we have trained in South Africa are women,” said Asha Patel, Head of Marketing, South Africa.