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    October 10, 2017

    DA Youth call on government to demand free 500MB per month data for students, jobseekers

    DA Youth #Data4All

    The DA Youth has called on government to provide students and jobseekers with a free allocation of 500MB per month in a movement dubbed #Data4All.

    The Democratic Alliance Youth (DA Youth) have proceeded to launch #Data4All – a new initiative calling on government to intervene and provide students and registered job seekers with a free allocation of 500MB per month.

    Launched in Port Elizabeth this Monday, the initiative cites that the average cost of 1GB of mobile data – between the R150-R160 ZAR range – is excessive, and that ‘poor students’, matric learners at government schools, and registered job seekers should receive a monthly allocation of free mobile data.

    Read: ANC vs DA vs EFF: What do each promise for internet access in South Africa?

    DA Youth Chairman Yusuf Cassim offered that “Exclusion from the internet keeps us from progressing. How can we call ourselves free? Data is more than a right, it is a necessity”, while DA Student Leader Samantha Beynon cited that “…So many students are forced to travel just so that they can access the internet. The poor and the missing middle have to struggle to succeed. The system is designed to set us up for failure.”

    The movement is a fresh reminder of #DataMustFall – the 2016 initiative launched by Tbo Touch which pushed for holistic price reductions of mobile data bundles.

    Though South African government has been slow to act on the matter, President Jacob Zuma iterated in his 2017 State of the Nation address that youth should be assured their grievances (in respect of mobile data prices and regulation) had been heard.

    Earlier this year, ICASA issued stringent new proposals that would force mobile networks to set pre-determined validity periods for data bundles, wherein networks would be mandated to warn users at least seven days before a set expiry period.

    South African government itself is seeking to create a National Broadband Network, through which it would develop its own infrastructure and have the potential to offer affordable data allocations.

    The City of Tshwane has for years been a leading light with the help of Project Isizwe, which provides residents with free data allocations and rewards those who prevent their municipal accounts from falling into arrears with additional data.

    It remains to be seen what impact the #Data4All movement will have – with the lack of a national broadband network, it would be up to ICASA (through South African government) to negotiate free data allocations with mobile networks.

    Read: Vodacom vs Cell C vs MTN vs Telkom Mobile: Who offers the best data bundles?

    What are your thoughts? How could South African government (or the private sector) deliver free or more affordable internet to its citizens? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!

    Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA

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