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USAID funds WiFi initiative to help spread COVID-19 messages

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The US government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is funding TooMuchWifi to offer Western Cape communities free Internet access to learn about ways to reduce COVID-19 infections.

The Western Cape is now the province with the highest number of COVID-19 infections, with 2 135 cases. The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in SA is 5 350, with 103 deaths reported, so far.

In a statement, USAID says the funding, which amounts to about R73 000, is in line with its partnership with Breakthrough ACTION and the Centre for Communication Impact (CCI), a South African non-profit organisation with expertise in strategic communication and community response activities.

The partnership identified TooMuchWifi as a strategic vehicle to reach thousands in the Western Cape with COVID-19 messages.

The statement notes USAID support to Breakthrough ACTION and CCI helps the National Risk Communication and Community Engagement technical working group to communicate urgent messages from the Department of Health and office of the president in real-time through platforms like TooMuchWifi.

“Users will be able to read timely and accurate COVID-19 information and take a simple quiz about COVID-19. The information will touch on different topical issues to counter disinformation, encourage social distancing, and support those who may be at higher risk due to tuberculosis or HIV.

“Passing the quiz will transfer R5 into a user’s TooMuchWifi wallet, which converts to 500MB that the person can use or send to family/friends to access any digital content they wish.”

John Groarke, mission director for USAID Southern Africa, adds: “This is an example of the US government’s partnership with the local private sector to deliver effective solutions to underprivileged communities in developing countries. This moderate investment has reached thousands in communities of the Western Cape with COVID-19 messages.”

TooMuchWifi is currently operating in communities across Cape Town, including Dunoon, Joe Slovo, Phoenix, Langa, Gugulethu, Bonteheuwel, Manenberg, Vrygrond, Philippi, Crossroads, Nyanga, Imizamo Yethu, Hangberg, Mfuleni and Khayelitsha.

To see if TooMuchWifi is available in your area, click here.

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