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The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SEACOM South Africa Ltd, one of the leading global Internet service providers. Jointly, the organisations will work to support youth and women-owned Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-based small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) beneficiaries in South Africa.

Based on the MoU, this partnership will assist the ICT-based SMME beneficiaries with IP transit, direct Internet access, national private lines, colocations, and cloud solutions.

The CSIR television whitespace (TVWS) spectrum technology has successfully been made available to support 13 selected youth and women-owned SMME network operators to deploy affordable broadband network infrastructures to underserved communities located in the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape.

Speaking after the signing of the MoU, Dr Lulama Wakaba, Executive Manager at the CSIR, said, “The CSIR harnesses multidisciplinary research and technological innovation for industrial and societal development. This initiative with SEACOM and the beneficiary SMMEs provides an avenue for diffusing impactful technologies to move the needle economically and uplift communities.”

According to Dr Luzango Mfupe, CSIR Principal Researcher and TVWS project leader, this is an exciting opportunity for SMMEs and the beneficiary rural and township communities as it will play a crucial and integral role in advancing the digital economy in previously disadvantaged communities.

As the first company to bring high-speed Internet connectivity to Africa, SEACOM aims to continue supporting the drive for the continent’s digital transformation by working with organisations like the CSIR to give underserved rural and township communities the opportunity to participate in the digital economy by having access to affordable broadband services and cloud technologies.

Wandile Gumede, the Sales Manager of the public sector at SEACOM, highlights the importance of the MoU and outlines how the partnership will benefit the ICT-based SMMEs.

“To aid our government in realising a truly digital South Africa with full digital inclusion for all South Africans, initiatives such as this one is instrumental. It is through such partnerships that, as an organisation, we contribute to making a positive impact in our society.

The support that SEACOM, jointly with the CSIR, is extending to the SMMEs is aimed at setting them up for success by enabling them to become wireless Internet service providers and, in the future, potential Internet service providers.

Most important are the communities that will be connected through this project. They will reap the most rewards as social issues such as unemployment, lack of access to information (education) and others will be addressed through the availability of broadband Internet access in their communities, using TVWS technology developed by CSIR,” he said.

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