Airbnb has partnered with local network provider Ikeja to roll out free Wi-Fi hotspots in South African communities over the next two years.
Ikeja is a company focused on providing fast, affordable Wi-Fi to townships.
Airbnb said it would provide at least 100 Airbnb Academy Hosts and their communities with free Wi-Fi.
“Each of these 100 Hosts will become a Wi-Fi hotspot within their community, giving 100s of others access, resulting in a powerful network effect,” Airbnb stated.
“With less than half of South Africa’s rural population connected to the internet, digital exclusion poses a significant barrier to entry for many potential tourism entrepreneurs.”
Ikeja cofounder Matthew Symonds said they were excited about this partnership with Airbnb.
“By the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy partnering with Ikeja as their chosen connectivity provider, hosts will now have unlimited Internet for their guests,” Symonds said.
Hosts will also provide hotspot coverage in their areas, which Symonds said will empower them beyond their walls.
Airbnb’s free Wi-Fi hotspot initiative is part of a three-year commitment in South Africa that includes the Wi-Fi infrastructure project, training, and an additional R1.5 million investment in its Africa Academy Fund.
This builds on its 2017 $1 million commitment in Africa to boost community-led tourism projects and the Africa Academy, Airbnb said.
“Building a stronger and more sustainable tourism industry in South Africa will take collaboration from all stakeholders, including Airbnb, and will require balanced and evidence-based regulation,” the company stated.
“In June, Airbnb set out its support for a simple, online and proportionate national registration system in South Africa as part of a five-point plan to re-boost tourism in the wake of the pandemic, and promote an inclusive and sustainable future for tourism.”