In June 2017, Ivanplats, a mining company in Mokopane, Limpopo, appointed CanPro to digitally activate the communities and youth enterprises surrounding the mine as part of its Social and Labour Plan. The aim of the project was to offer communities and enterprises access to the digital world; for the mine to meaningfully engage with the communities; and to enable interaction within the communities themselves using the online environment.
At the beginning of this project, eight communities were given access to free WiFi, which connects to a local portal created by CanPro called Maru a Mokopane or 'Clouds of Mokopane'. Seventeen unemployed young people from the community were also given the opportunity to become digital service providers through training fellow residents on how to access and confidently use the free portal services.
The uptake of cellular usage in communities like these has been huge and mobile devices are at the cornerstone of their communication and social interaction. It was, therefore, expected that community members would use their access to free data for similar purposes. Six-months into the programme, however, it is clear that the community has prioritised employment opportunities; education and the availability of learnerships; and support of local business over social media in how they make use of their time online.
CanPro's live business intelligence app has shown that the communities use the Maru a Mokopane portal and free internet in the following ways:
- With 40 percent of portal users being unemployed, they visited the Opportunities page (which has development, job and procurement opportunities from Ivanplats and other entities) over 120 000 times.
- This corresponds with their online search areas, where their free 300MB search limit was mostly utilised on terms such as bursaries, learnerships, internships, university and on job sites, with over 10 000 searches.
- They also made use of the local business directory called Reka Mo Mokopane 92 000 times to search for products and services offered by the 160 local businesses listed.
- The mine has received 7 000 messages from the community members, of which more than 6 500 were positive feedback and engagement.
- With almost 47 000 page visits to the news section, the most read stories relate to jobs, loans and recruitment.
- The latest addition to the portal, the Health and Safety awareness for communities has also been positively received, with 3 000 residents choosing to sharpen their health and safety knowledge through the portal.
- Women are equally benefitting from the online services and comprise over 48 percent of the registered users.
- Eighteen people over the age of 80 have also been trained and are actively engaging online
Liesel Kirsten, managing director of CanPro says, 'The training of community members by Digital Youth Enterprises to connect to the free Wi-Fi and utilise online services via the Maru a Mokopane portal was crucial to the success of the programme, as over 8 000 of the 10 000 users required activation to engage the digital services.'
'It is clear that providing free Wi-Fi, a community portal, and training on how to use these resources has been well adopted by the residents of Mokopane in which the initial phase of the project was implemented. We are working on several collaborative partnerships to ensure that people in all Ivanplats' host communities get digital access,' said Lisl Fair, group manager of social and investment at Ivanhoe Mines SA. She also emphasises, "It will be beneficial for more organisations across the regional business community to be involved in this programme for instance, by contracting the Digital Youth Enterprises to provide core business services such as training, marketing, sales, technical maintenance, surveys, collecting local news, data collection etc. as well as to advertise opportunities on Maru A Mokopane.'