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Free Wi-Fi shoots on Gumtree

07 August 2014 - 02:01 By Jean Huisman

Classified ads website Gumtree plans to connect over a million people to the internet by creating 219 free Wi-Fi zones in low-income communities throughout South Africa.

"If you increase internet connectivity by 10%, GDP goes up by 1.3%," said Gumtree's South African country manager, Johan Nel.

Users will be given a 250MB daily cap, after which they will be able to access only a specialised portal known as Tobetsa, which will give them access to Gumtree's educational and job seekers' sections.

Said Gumtree SA spokesman Estelle Nagel: "Tobetsa has already had 24000 unique visits since its inception on 30 July.

"Gumtree gets 9million visitors every month. So the question is: How does one expand on such a wide reach? The answer we came up with is to expand the internet user base," she said.

Gumtree partnered with non-profit organisation Project Isizwe, which will facilitate the introduction and maintenance of the "free internet zones".

The project's first phase made free Wi-Fi available at six university campuses and at activity hubs in the Tshwane region. In the second phase 213 sites will be created at schools in Mamelodi, Soshanguve and Atteridgeville, in Tshwane.

"In one of our Wi-Fi spots in Soshanguve there was a lady sitting there selling fruit, chips and juice," said Nel. "Since we rolled out our free Wi-Fi, she's had an 800% increase in sales. Now she has a little cafe."