panorama at Mankosi


newThis is Mankosi in the Eastern Cape. Here, the community, with some help from researchers, created and owns its own telephone and internet “company”.

Local calls are free and calls to other networks cost half of what they would on those other networks. Data costs a tenth of the market price.

The project, officially registered as a co-operative (“co-op” for short) is called Zenzeleni – “do it yourselves” in isiXhosa. What led to this amazing community initiative?

Of course, the short answer is “Prices!”. Compared to similar countries, South African communication costs are high, although technology prices generally have fallen dramatically. Why are we still paying so much? Because there isn’t enough competition between the various companies. The lack of competition is a story in itself, involving politicians and influential people having shares in the profits of those companies, and allowing the companies to get away with keeping the prices high. Find more detail on this in R2K’s “Lived Cost of Communications”

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Community Telecoms