In South Africa, approximately 80% of homes are without fast and affordable broadband internet, perpetuating the digital divide.
Fiber access is limited to affluent suburbs, leaving townships underserved. Additionally, high bank transaction fees make micropayments for internet usage prohibitively expensive, leading to a cash-based mindset.
To address this issue, Finnfund has invested 2 million euros in the Fibertime Group, a company offering fast, uncapped, and time-based open-access fiber internet to townships.
The company’s wholly owned subsidiaries, fibertime™ and VulaCoin, initiated a pilot project in August 2022 in Kayamandi township, near Cape Town.
The project initially connected over 1,000 homes in Kayamandi, providing unlimited data on a time-based and pay-as-you-go model, while VulaCoin provided digital wallets for micropayments.
The goal is to extend fiber access to 7,500 homes in Kayamandi by the end of 2023, with plans to expand to new townships in 2024.
Niklas Simola, Investment Manager at Finnfund, emphasized the importance of bridging the usage gap for affordable internet access.
He expressed pride in partnering with fibertime™ and highlighted the role of Nokia’s technology in making the project possible.
Nokia is providing fiber access nodes and modems to create a WiFi network across the entire township.
Naveed Kashif, Head of Southern Africa Market at Nokia, emphasized the impact of fiber internet on home workers and learners in townships.
He highlighted the innovative approach to providing affordable internet without compromising on quality, making digital inclusion a reality.
The project’s focus on both pricing model and technology aims to increase internet access, create jobs, and support personal human development, including education, communication, access to information, employment opportunities, and financial inclusion.
The investment also contributes to reaching the EU Global Gateway targets, emphasizing the broader impact of the initiative.