South Africa’s unemployment rate hit a new record of 34.9% in the third quarter (Q3) from 34.4% in Q2 according to a report by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).
With record unemployment levels and high data costs creating a barrier to entry for many job seekers, South Africans need new ways to bring opportunities to the people and to connect people with potential employers.
A group of public-spirited researchers at REGENT BUSINESS SCHOOL’S iLeadLab facility has developed a practical and innovative solution: the MAHALABox.
“Mahala” means “free” in isiZulu, and the MAHALABox lives up to its name. It provides free access to online resources such as recruitment agencies, job placements, and skills development tools like aptitude tests, CV templates, and downloadable books and videos … and all it takes is a smartphone – no data or internet access required!
Bringing Better Opportunities
“The MAHALABox is our way of bringing important skills and resources to students, the unemployed, and the youth in local communities,” says Dr Ridwaan Asvat, REGENT BUSINESS SCHOOL’S Operations Director. “We hope that, by providing such a solution, we can bring better opportunities to people who need them.”
Here’s how it works….
Each MAHALABox contains a small computer. Employers, recruitment agencies, corporate entities, government departments, and tertiary education institutions can create content that is housed on the MAHALABox network.
A MAHALABox generates its own wifi signal, and anyone with a smartphone can connect to it and interact with the network without needing data. With nearly 60 million smartphones in use in South Africa every day, it’s a practical and accessible way to connect people with information.
According to Sizwe Madikizela, one of the lead designers of the MAHALABox, another big plus is the fact that the MAHALABox uses sustainable solar energy. “By making use of a solar panel and a rechargeable battery, the box can be powered indefinitely,” says Sizwe Madikizela.
“The MAHALABox is produced at a relatively low cost, sustainable to use, and extremely portable, making it a cost effective, feasible and scalable solution.”
A Multipurpose Device
The MAHALABox is a new innovation and its creators see vast potential for it in the future. The MAHALABox can be adapted to specific locations – community centres, gyms, municipal gatherings, sports events, transport systems, educational centres, and so on – and can become an access point for communities, or even a storytelling device!
“Innovation has the power to free South Africans from the shackles of unemployment and bridge the ‘digital divide’. The MAHALABox is our way to contribute.”