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Khayelitsha hungry for Internet access

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Rising demand for Internet and computer services in the townships has forced the Cape Town-based computer literacy group, Silulo Ulutho Technologies, to seek bigger premises next to Khayelitsha station and Mfuleni, says MD Luvuyo Rani. 

This follows the phenomenal growth in customers visiting the company's existing site in Litha Park, and Khayelitsha Mall in Khayelitsha.
"We have been growing so fast that we could not keep up with the traffic of people coming into our shop. On average we have been getting more than 400 people per day and this is a vindication of our view that people in the townships are just as hungry for technology as people in the suburbs ­the challenge is training and exposure. So next year we are looking at opening a 450 square meter one stop-shop called Silulo Business and IT Centre near Khayelitsha station."
South Africa currently has a very low penetration in terms of Internet usage. International Telecommunication Union statistics on Internet usage show that South Africa had 5,1-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.
Affordable computer services in the townships could increase the overall Internet usage in South Africa.
Rani, who runs Silulo Ulutho Technologies with three partners, Sigqibo Pangabantu, Nandipha Matshoba and Lonwabo Rani, says the company will look at franchising their business model in 2008. Their model is based on a one-stop technology shop providing:
* An Internet café;
* Computer training room;
* Printing facilities;
* Netwoking;
* Computer repairs;
* Computer retail store (selling ­software and hardware);
* Boardroom and conference venue;
* Meeting rooms; and
* Cafeteria or coffee shop.
"We know that the demand for these services is not limited to townships in the Western Cape and we would be  looking at getting other young entrepreneurs from other provinces on board," he adds.
Part of Silulo Ulutho Technologies' success is due to its involvement with the Cape Information Technology Initiative (CITI), VeloCITI program aimed at assisting young entrepreneurs to run their businesses efficiently and profitably. Rani, whose company was chosen  as one of three runners up in the VeloCITI program, says the company has benefited a lot from the program.
"We have become more astute in  our approach to business management, accounting, marketing and operations. Our business has become even more profitable due to hard work and our implementation of ideas from the VeloCITI program," he says.
Prior to forming this partnership, Luvuyo started his own business three years ago in Khayelitsha, selling new and refurbished computers to schools and educators in the area, and eventually established computer training centre, office and an Internet café at the Khayelitsha mall.