Mbekweni, meaning ‘respect’ in Xhosa, is a vibrant settlement in the Berg River. Nestled between the towns of Wellington and Paarl in the Western Cape, Mbekweni is home to seasonal workers on the fruit and wine farms surrounding the Berg River. A 2008 risk assessment report noted Mbekweni as a high-risk area within the Drakensberg Municipality. Some of these risks include disease outbreaks, water waste and uncontrollable fires. While the township’s residents have demonstrated remarkable tenacity in the face of these risks, they still lack the resources to educate themselves on these risks. In urban areas, internet access is often taken for granted. TooMuchWifi’s intention is to explore the potential transformative impact of introducing fast and reliable internet access to Mbekweni. By expanding to Mbekweni, TooMuchWifi hopes their products can empower residents in various aspects of their life.
Due to its large population and increasing demand for internet access, Paarl presents a significant market opportunity for TooMuchWifi. This community still lacks fast, reliable and affordable connectivity, creating a gap that TooMuchWifi can fill. By the introduction of connectivity, TooMuchWifi will empower residents to educate themselves on how they can improve on the risks they face on a daily basis.
Residents of Mbekweni are increasingly aligning themselves to beat the war on waste in their community. With the introduction of the Keep Mbekweni Clean initiative, residents are beginning to make a change to the health of their community. Beyond the convenience of internet access, TooMuchWifi is hoping to support this initiative, and others, by partnering with community organisations and assisting their programmes. Creating affordable internet connections will enhance the success of initiatives aimed at providing educational opportunities. Residents can readily access accurate and up-to-date health information more efficiently.
By using TooMuchWifi’s fast and reliable internet connection, Keep Mbekweni Clean and other initiatives can utilize digital platforms to launch awareness campaigns about disease outbreaks and preventive measures. This can lead to improved community participation in disease control efforts and early reporting of potential outbreaks.
By a quick observation, Mbekweni’s soil can only be described as damp due to several broken taps constantly running and causing pools of water to collect. Fast internet access allows residents to view online tutorials and read articles on water conservation and the importance of water saving. By educating the community about water-saving techniques, such as rainwater harvesting and water recycling, internet connectivity can foster a culture of responsible water usage.
Digital platforms offer communication channels for community members to share their water-saving initiatives and success stories. These online interactions can inspire residents to adopt similar water-saving practices, creating a collective effort to conserve water in Mbekweni.
In 1982, a massive fire caused the electricity to be cut-off to the area for some time. Single dwelling fires occur in Mbekweni on an almost weekly basis. Reportedly, the severity and scale of fires have decreased since 120 community members underwent basic fire awareness training. With access to fast and affordable internet, residents can access helpful information. This means the community will be educated on fire prevention, safe handling of flammable materials, and evacuation procedures.
Internet connectivity allows for more efficient emergency communication during fire incidents. Residents can receive real-time updates, evacuation instructions, and emergency contact information, helping them respond promptly and safely during a fire outbreak.
The introduction of fast and reliable internet access in Mbekweni presents a valuable opportunity to address the risks residents face, such as disease outbreaks, water waste, and uncontrollable fires. By providing access to vital information, internet connectivity can empower residents to take proactive measures and collaborate effectively in tackling these risks. Embracing technology and knowledge-sharing can contribute significantly to creating a safer, healthier, and more sustainable Mbekweni community.