South Africa’s first cooperative-owned Internet Service Provider (ISP) began operating in the Eastern Cape in 2012. Zenzeleni Community Networks started when a group of University of the Western Cape (UWC) researchers joined members of Mankosi community and came up with a plan to provide an affordable telecommunications service for the remote rural community.

Winner of both social impact and innovation awards, Zenzeleni (which means “do it yourselves” in isiXhosa) is a solar-powered, community-owned Wi-Fi telecommunications network solution.

How the Zenzeleni Networks model came about and its far-reaching impact was presented in a case study by Ms Aisha Mahomed Ali (left), Technology Transfer Manager at UWC, as part of the Train-the-Trainer Workshop of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme. The workshop, attended by close to 200 participants from 25 of South Africa’s 26 public universities, was funded by the British Council and facilitated by experts from Oxentia Ltd — Oxford’s Global Innovation Consultancy.