The newly elected board of the South African chapter of Internet Society (ISOC-ZA), will empower more people to use the Internet by strengthening the existing community outreach projects and community gatherings.
This is according to Naresh Dajee, the new chairman of ISOC-ZA, who says the organisation aims to put an end to empty promises about expanding Internet access to ordinary South Africans by embarking on an aggressive education and training drive.
"We will start by initiating sub groups in other provinces across South Africa, focusing on increasing the reach of ISOC within the country. We aim to use the expertise of technology specialists within ISOC-ZA to assist us when doing presentations to members on Internet-related topics," says Dajee.
A World Wide Worx report on Internet usage show that South Africa had 3,85-million users in 2006, which is about 10% of the population a low figure by world standards. Africa as a region also ranks low on Internet usage with only 3,5% of the population using the Internet in the same period.
According to the report, South Africa's Internet sector has been stagnant in recent years due to an expensive operating environment created by Telkom's dominance in the fixed-line and bandwidth market. This is despite the more than 200 Internet service providers (ISPs) competing in the market.
However, modest growth has now returned to the market, stimulated by the launch of Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and wireless broadband services in 2004, followed by continuous price cuts in the following years, the report adds. Further stimulus is expected with the imminent launch of Neotel's consumer services as well as the expansion of 3G/HSDPA services by the country's mobile network operators.
"Over the past year we've launched the Spammer Bounty Hunter programme and given our constitution a revamp in order to enable us to continue growing ISOC-ZA at its current rate," says Alan Levin, outgoing chairman of ISOC-ZA.
"The Spammer Bounty Hunter programme has led to a reduction in South African spam and a much greater awareness of the laws on spam in general. Our main community event was held in February where our members were inspired by Prof. Lawrence Lessig on the topic freeculture.co.za."