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Project Isizwe's Mexican Adventure

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fire4Tim Human,  Marketing and Content Manager at Project Isizwe - Zulu for 'tribe' or 'nation' -, travelled to Mexico to attend the IGF16 as part of the FIRE Africa Award his orgnanisation won in 2016. He tells us about his trip below.

 

 

 

 

 

Project Isizwe began connecting South Africa’s unconnected in 2013, and it has been an incredible journey since then filled with many highlights. One such highlight came in 2016, when we were presented with the FIRE Africa Award on 6 December 2016, in Guadalajara, Mexico, during the 2016 Internet Governance Forum (IGF), during the Seed Alliance Award Ceremony

Winning Initiative 

TshWi-FI TV, the citizen journalism project which brings hyper-local education and entertainment videos to Tshwane’s Free Wi-Fi users, was acknowledged by FIRE Africa as an innovative collaboration between the City of Tshwane and Project Isizwe’s content partner Tobetsa. The initiative won the award for being an internet service that promotes social inclusion, strengthens democracy and allows for the exercise of rights and freedoms. Not only did we win this incredible award and receive the international acclaim that comes with it, but I was lucky enough to travel to Guadalajara Mexico as the Project Isizwe representative to receive the award and take part in the IGF along with other FIRE Africa Award recipients and recipients from the FRIDA and ISIF Asia programmes.  

Making Connections 

Meeting and travelling with these amazing social entrepreneurs was the highlight of the experience for me. Learning about these incredible projects across the world, led by innovative leaders from across Africa and the rest of the globe was eye-opening and inspirational. Each one of us - the Award winners as well the AFRINIC and  FIRE Africa teams - had unique perspectives, projects and stories to share with the group, which we talked over in detail between the varied and interesting sessions that the IGF had to offer,  as well as over several Taco lunches (and cerveza and tequila dinners!).

Knowledge Share 

The IGF sessions themselves were as varied as they were informational and inspiring, with social entrepreneurship really coming to the fore. Of course, the session on Public WiFi initiatives were of particular interest, and it was great to hear of projects across the world that are trying, like us, to give access to the millions of unconnected people who are cut off from what we believe is the basic human right of Internet access. Another session I found extremely useful was on creating local content, and I learned some great strategies to make our community content sustainable. 

Invaluable Experience

The AFRINIC and FIRE AFRICA crew were amazing in not only bringing us to this event and organising all logistics, but most importantly showcasing our projects and introducing us to like-minded people and projects across the world. Of course, the US$3,000 prize is another incredible benefit to come from FIRE Africa. This will go towards better aligning our content strategy and adding further layers to the public WiFi content portal to make it more engaging for our users. All in all, my trip to Mexico was an incredible experience and one which has resulted in further impetus being put into our projects in 2017 and connections and ideas that will go far beyond Guadalajara 2016. I cant wait for the next one and to meet up with the crew for another adventure!

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About Project Isizwe 

Project Isizwe works with local, provincial and national government to provide WiFi in low-income communities for the purpose of education, economic development and social inclusion, enabling access to the internet as a catalyst for change. Sign the free WiFi petition at www.isizwe.com

#freewifi4all

About FIRE Africa

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FIRE Africa provides funds for projects, initiatives, tools and platforms that harness the power of the Internet to empower the local and regional community to solve the region’s unique online communications problems. Since we ran our pilot project in 2007 to identify innovative ICT solutions to the challenges faced by local communities, FIRE Africa has grown into a fully-fledged programme that has helped over 30 initiatives in 16 countries over the last eight years.

 

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