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CEO Weekends: Gumtree SA enters partnership to push for last mile connectivity

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father-children-1eBay owned Gumtree SA, a general classifieds site has entered a partnership with Project Isizwe to see thousands of communities in South Africa come online at no cost in a move aimed to push its own reach and grow its user base.

Though it beats classifieds giants OLX and Junkmail according to Aexa Internet, Gumtree still wants to get more visitors and as well be part of the everyone’s lives in South Africa. Gumtree and Project Isizwe, a free Wi-Fi initiative started by South African serial entrepreneur Alan Knott-Craig Jnr aims to take free WiFi to South Africa’s low-income communities with a major roll-out planned for the City of Tshwane targeting over 1 million people this month.

According to Johan Nel, Gumtree South Africa country manager: “As one of the biggest Internet sites in South Africa, the partnership was a natural strategic fit for Gumtree. Our aim is not only to connect economically disadvantaged individuals to the Internet for the first time – we also have the larger goal of connecting those individuals with opportunities such as 60 000 jobs registered on our site, or to gain free exposure for their own businesses by tapping into the platform and our user base.”

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Now in the second phase which is targeting over 213 Free Internet Zones, the Isizwe Project was launched in November 2013 at six campuses across Tshwane. The Free Internet Zones will allow communities to access free internet using their own WiFi enabled devices minus any logins or passwords requirements albeit required to observe a fair usage policy of 250MB per device per day.

According to the two firms, other eight low-income schools have been targeted in Atlantis and Robertson in the Western Cape with a population of over 20 000 set to benefit.

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Nel believes Internet connectivity is significant to economies in emerging markets. He see benefits such as social services, healthcare, increased productivity among others.

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