Coca Cola, in partnership with British Telecom, wants those dubbed “people from poorest communities in the world” to have good browsing time while enjoying a bottle of ice cold coke with the just launched Coca Cola Free WiFi. According to the Press Release pasted below, the Coca Cola Free Wi-Fi that will be integrated in Cola Cola Machines (see image below) doesn’t seem to be headed to Kenya.
According to the press release, “Coca-Cola Fortune and BT Global Services are partnering to set up WiFi on Coca-Cola machines and provide free internet access to impoverished communities in South Africa” and the sites chosen for the pilot programme are Qunu (you should remember that name), Umtata and Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga. These sites were selected for accessibility as they are close to schools, shopping centers and taxi ranks.
Speaking during the announcement of the project, Oliver Fortuin, managing director, BT Global Services, Sub Saharan Africa, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Coca-Cola and be involved in a project that will give underserved communities much improved access to information and education opportunities. At BT, we have a vision for a Connected Society: to help improve society globally through the power of digital connections. As well as providing access, we want to help people use technology to apply their creativity and harness the possibilities of today’s connected world.”
This initiative is one of the coolest things BT and Coca Cola are doing for the Sub Saharan Africa as we clearly know the impacts Internet has on livelihoods of those who have access. The beauty of this project is that the user of the Coca Cola free WiFi won’t be required to buy a bottle of coke to enjoy the free access, but anyone with a need to access the Internet will only have to avail themselves plus their gadgets to enjoy the free service.
How I wish this cool Coca Cola Free WiFi could land in Kenya and be made available in every major shop, not in shops town or in the high end malls that have the so called Coca Cola machines, but, to use their words, in the low class impoverished estates where the poorest communities reside. I would like to be in a position to get a signal in my own house if the Coca Cola free WiFi is installed in the closest shop around my residential estate.
But I am not very sure if the nice service meant for those like me will ever land here. Although we have close to 100% penetration of Coke drinking joints in the country, British Telecom isn’t in Kenya.
This is a story that I shall for sure keep a close eye on as I am skeptic on the possibility that two profit centric companies have real intention of offering a costly service to the poorest South Africans indefinitely.
Enjoy the press release pasted below:
Coca-Cola South Africa, bottling partner Coca-Cola Fortune and BT Global Services are partnering to set up WiFi on Coca-Cola machines and provide free internet access to impoverished communities in South Africa. Coca-Cola is installing the refreshment-dispensing coolers while BT is providing design and support, connectivity and internet access, as well as business training.
The pilot project has been launched in two key areas in Umtata in the Eastern Cape province and Nelspruit, in the Mpumalanga province.
“The initiative forms part of Coca-Cola’s commitment to building sustainable communities by empowering the members of these communities. We believe that by giving them access to free WiFi we will enable students and school children in the area to increase their knowledge through research while also giving entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community the opportunity to manage some of their business aspects online,” says David Visser, Chief Information Officer of Coca-Cola South Africa.
Oliver Fortuin, managing director, BT Global Services, Sub Saharan Africa, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Coca-Cola and be involved in a project that will give underserved communities much improved access to information and education opportunities. At BT, we have a vision for a Connected Society: to help improve society globally through the power of digital connections. As well as providing access, we want to help people use technology to apply their creativity and harness the possibilities of today’s connected world.”
The project provides WiFi connectivity for community members of Nelspruit and Umtata. The sites were strategically chosen for their accessibility, so as to maximise usage of technology by the locals. The first site is Sasol Integrated Energy Centre (SIEC) in Qunu, Umtata. This is a popular spot for locals and is in close proximity to a taxi rank, attracting large numbers of people.
Furthermore SIEC is run by a predominantly women run co-operative which will benefit from the increased flow of people. The second site is located at Thokozane Fast Food situated in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga.
Both outlets are in the vicinity of shopping centres and schools, allowing members of the communities to combine their day-to-day activities with the opportunity to access the internet for business and educational purposes. Internet access is offered for free via WiFi, without any purchase requirement of any kind and is accessible for the duration of the time spent at the outlets.
Coca-Cola South Africa, Coca-Cola Fortune and BT Global Services aim to grow the project and install WiFi coolers in various parts of South Africa to help support and grow sustainable communities.