It Takes a Village

The dark cloud of legal racial segregation has been lifted from South Africa as the country celebrates 15 years of democracy.  The country has experienced a renaissance that has allowed South Africa to flourish economically, politically, and racially.  An emerging black middle class has materialized; however, despite its success, the repenting model nation still remains divided.

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A digital divide exists in most developing countries. South Africa is no exception.  Presently, less than 10% of individuals are internet users and less than 400,000 households have broadband access.  The lack of broadband has severely restricted South Africas online population.  However, if South Africa plans to become a player on the world stage, it has to build a bridge and connect their population with the rest of the world.

The development of an a new undersea telecommunications cable will be the first step in connecting South Africa.  This development will allow South Africas broadband to grow fivefold over the next five years as South Africa gets high-speed broadband internet access.  The internet population is expected to double from 4.5 million to over 9 million by 2014.

The 2010 World Cup will provide the perfect stage for brands to more than market but truly engage with South Africans. Telkom, Africa’s largest integrated communications company and a signature partner of the World Cup, has already begun positioning themselves for internet growth.  They have partnered with Microsoft for over five years to create state of the art computer resource centers known as  “Digital Villages”.  These centers have given schools and communities the ability to harness technology in order to develop computer skills.  “This project provides another opportunity that brings South Africa a step closer to bridging the digital divide,” says Minister Frazer-Moleketi.

200px-2010_FIFA_World_Cup_logo_svgIt would be beneficial for Mahindra Satyam, a World Cup sponsor, to adopt a strategy similar to Telkom and move beyond just being a sponsor but to create a strategy that will enable it to become an engaged partner. Presently, they are setting up and managing 240 self-help ticketing terminals in South Africa to distribute nearly four million tickets. However, this isnt enough; they should actively connect with South Africans by donating computers and access to internet through townships, Citizen Post Offices, and internet cafés.  This will align with their rebranding effort as corporate partner after the scandal that has plagued this India company. It wont remove the dark cloud that exists with their accounting dilemma, but by becoming an entrenched partner, it will allow them to leverage an event with a critical social need to bridge the divide and a template to follow in India for redemption.

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5 Responses to It Takes a Village

  1. Adrienne Allmond says:

    Nice post! What other ways do you think 2010 World Cup sponsors could participate in helping to bridge the the digital divide gap besides donating computers and internet access sites?

  2. The best thing about your post this week was how you took on the feedback from earlier posts and managed to not only focus on how South Africa is using social media right now, but also offer some smart thinking on what more they could do. Your last paragraph where you share suggestions for more that one sponsor in particular could do is exactly what your reader is waiting for – your insights and ideas to bring this concept to life and offer new thinking. Excellent post this week. (4)

  3. paulfbove says:

    Good insight about the upcoming underseas telecom cable and the idea for companies to donate computers and internet access to better reach their audiences. I was amazed at how small the broadband penetration is in South Africa, and offering the tools for people to use would really help bring together a community effort in a nice way. With efforts like that, companies could effectively reach those people who don’t have Internet and/or computer access.

  4. kstel2 says:

    Interesting post. I wouldn’t have considered the World Cup as a platform for brands to target South Africans. The cultural elements related to the World Cup would provide brands with an angle on marketing their products or servies, however would this tactic require measurements that extend over the course of a few years, considering that the internet access is still quite limited in large parts of South Africa?

  5. maurice09 says:

    Hey, I really like the post and you’re mentioning the World Cup! Well, it’s going to be a great event next year. And the world will not only focus on sports but also on the country and its citizens. It’s a huge chance for the host country. Germany held the World Cup in 2006. And I can tell you – this event changed our nation (even though the Italians kicked us out at the semi-final): it was a great summer, it was fair sports, and a huge celebration – the Germans (still struggling to show and honor their flag+national symbols) hang their flags out, East Germans met West Germans, you had a beer with Italians at the Brandenburger Gate or just hosted some Polish neighbors at your place- just great! After this event, in Germany we still refer to the “Summer fairy tail 2006,” our economy got started and we had a blast for nearly three years. Africa is certainly not as rich and developed- but still, the same thing that happened to Germany will eventually happen to South Africa. And I think you presented a great outlook: the undersea communications cable, which will provide more people with broadband Internet access, is the start to a lot more ahead. The partnership between Microsoft and Telekom will be on a global stage too – and South Africa has tons of opportunities to get Internet started. Soccer unites the world! Let’s go and make the fairy tail become true – South Africa 2010…
    -Moritz

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