Affordable Broadband and Digital Entrepreneurship for an Inclusive Digital Society

  1. Dr F. Mekuria, Malmö University / CSIR

  2. Dr. L. Mfupe, Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) 0001 Pretoria, South Africa

  3. Dr. A. Odusola, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

  4. Dr M. Mzyece, Wits Business School (WBS), Wits University, South Africa

  5. N. Mbele, AdNotes Pty Ltd    

Visit Profiles of Workshop Organizing Committee & Panelists



Affordable digital connectivity and sustainable digital entrepreneurship lies at the core of the inclusive digital society that the global community is striving to achieve. This has been evident in the wake of the COVID pandemic, where digitally excluded communities have suffered from lacking societal services leading to deeper poverty and exclusions. An important solution that could reverse this trend is affordable digital connectivity and the empowerment of local sustainable digital businesses. The CSIR has done long term RD&I on Spectrum innovation based on television white spaces (TVWS) broadband networks, which have been found suitable for affordably connecting underserved rural and township communities in Africa. The CSIR partnering with UNDP and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) have collaborated and carried out deployment of affordable digital connectivity using TVWS spectrum sharing network technologies in combination with last-mile WiFi access networks, in rural and township communities in South Africa. This was carried out with a framework to empowering several emerging South African network operators. The selected digital SMMEs – with more focus given to women and youth entrepreneurs – are found to be the relevant custodians and champions of digital transformation in rural and township communities in South Africa. Currently, the project addresses in two phases 4+9 South African digitally excluded communities as beneficiaries. The framework is to scale up and deploy affordable broadband networks and sustainable digital businesses in hundreds or thousands of digitally excluded rural and township communities in several African countries, depending on sufficient partner funding being available. The Workshop aims to disseminate the innovation and development of sustainable digital businesses, leading towards the creation of an inclusive digital society which harnesses Africa’s potential for future digital work force, improving relevant sectors such as agriculture, health, green energy power supply, environmental protection and transportation, using digital technologies. Several foresight studies including practical commercial sustainable digital businesses and their impact in the communities will be presented. The workshop organizers once and for all prove the impact of digital transformation based on locally empowered SMMEs as a catalyst for sustainable economic development and an inclusive digital Society.


Workshop Program (2.5 Hours)

  1. Introductory remarks by members of the Workshop Panelists (Mr. Nathi Mbele, AdNotes Mobile, Dr F. Mekuria, Dr L.Mfupe, CSIR; Dr A.Odusola,UNDP; Prof. M. Mzyece, WBS/Wits) (20 min).

  2. Presentation of impact analysis on initiatives to support youth and women owned rural and township wireless network operators, Dr L Mfupe, CSIR (25 min).

  3. Presentation of the Digital Transformation Champion AdNotes Pty Ltd, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (25 min).

  4. Agricultural Renaissance in Africa supported by Smart ICT Technologies, Dr. A. Odusola, UNDP Regional Director, Southern Africa. (30 min).

  5. Sustainable Digital Business Models for resource limited areas and Inclusive Digital Transformation, Prof. M. Mzyece, Dr F. Mekuria (30 min).

  6. Panel Discussion & Conclusion on Sustainable Digital Transformation (45 min)