Pan-African wholesale network service provider Workonline Communications has again honoured its commitment to increasing Internet access on the continent, particularly in disadvantaged communities, through its sponsorship of bandwidth to NGO Afrika Tikkun. The free bandwidth will be rolled out across six Afrika Tikkun centres, where slow Internet speeds have previously hampered the organisation’s developmental goals.

Afrika Tikkun is focused on developing young people ‘from cradle to Career’ through a support model that focuses on education, holistic development, skills development and work placement.

“The development of the communities in which we operate is very close to our hearts, and few factors can contribute to development as much as access to the internet,” says Edward Lawrence, Director of Business Development at Workonline Communications. “Access to information (through access to the internet) is undoubtedly one of the most important factors for the development of entrepreneurship, and thus the growth of the economies in which we operate. I would go as far as to say that access to the internet should be considered a basic human right.

“As the leading wholesale internet provider in South Africa, we’re committed to improving the quality of the internet in Africa through the best solutions available. Our drive is to connect Africa to the world and the world to Africa, and this can only be done through strong partnerships, reliable infrastructure and highly qualified dedicated technical staff.”

Afrika Tikkun was formed soon after democracy was established in South Africa to address the country’s deep inequalities through social development. At the outset, the organisation focused on the day-to-day needs of children, as they are the future of the country. Realising that this was not enough, Afrika Tikkun refined its model to support education, health, and social services to children, youth and their families. Services include family support, primary healthcare, early childhood development, child and youth development, and nutrition and food support.

Marc Lubner, CEO of Afrika Tikkun adds “high speed access to the internet is increasingly a vital part of every day life and virtually necessary for participation in the economy – it’s where you find opportunities to work, to develop skills and expand yourself. Without the privileges access to worldwide connections and information provides, low income families will be left even further behind”.

Afrika Tikkun’s Computer Skills Development Programs provide children, youth and their communities with opportunities to interact with technology and learn how to use the systems and software that are necessary to lift themselves out of poverty and become productive members of the modern workforce.

Furthermore, an average of 30% of Afrika Tikkun’s Computer Skills Program participants live with a learning disability. For them, online learning platforms that allow them to work at their own pace is extremely valuable as they are most likely to fall behind in the traditional education system.

“The importance of Internet access to unemployed graduates cannot be overstated. It puts them in touch with employment opportunities, arms them with interview tips, and helps them connect with other like-minded people, which could lead to establishing a start-up. It also assists unskilled people with information and career opportunities that could upskill them;” says Lawrence.

The partnership is a timely intervention for Afrika Tikkun, which enables it to continue to empower communities while the number of beneficiaries continues to grow.

Joint statement: Afrika Tikkun and Workonline