Their Twitter headline reads “We are a low-cost internet service provider.” Reading it further, you get a simplified breakdown of what you do and don’t need to be connected. We are outside, the Sunday weather allows us. I’m no dendrologist (that’s what a tree-ologist is, right?) but this big tree somehow makes a great add-on to the ambiance of the day. The two gentlemen I’m with have quite stark personalities in difference. I see this a lot over the course of our session. And it so happens to be one of the key ingredients as to why this works.
Songezo is the one I speak to for the bulk amount of time we were there. Our conversations range from a variety of my interests some of which I will be teased for as the day goes. I find that this guy, who still is a partial mystery, is deeply passionate about topics he finds interesting – even with the most trivial humdrum.
By the time Lubabalo chips in we were probably talking about the skyrocketed data prices across the networks. That is even more apparent in the instance where Songezo mentions his trip to Kenya and how he managed to hotspot some five people and yet still had enough data for himself throughout the duration of his stay. Though he doesn’t mention why he went there, he mentions having been able to keep connected as one highlight of his trip. “The right to communicate has to be basic and universal”, says Songezo. His sentiments remind me of the 10 page document written by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg conveniently titled – Connectivity is a Human Right. It is within that same document that he states “… connecting with the people around you through a social network is a basic human behavior.” So what drives these gentlemen to carry on with Mdantsane Mobile?
The right to communicate has to be basic and universal
Their intention is to move and connect people. They want to offer alternatives regarding communication. Speaking of alternatives, Lubabalo jokingly mentions a move Songezo recently made regarding TV and streaming. The former coins it a rebellion whereas the latter sees himself as having evolved. I find that rather interesting. I mean, by definition “to fight against or refuse to obey an authority” – which in this case is a system – is to rebel. I’m inclined to agree with having evolved. Songezo has a background in Electrical Engineering and experience spanning more than a decade within the telecommunication industry. Lubabalo is a Civil Engineer by trade and has been in various ventures bordering outside of Engineering in the past 15 years.
As the conversation continues I also discover something that brought a strange form of solace. Despite their divergent backgrounds, they know what they are doing. It’s work that comes from a common and shared frustration; high data prices. As longtime and ardent users of the internet themselves, they understand how torturous slow connection as well as steep data amounts can be. “To better the experience of their clients,” Songezo tells me, “it’s important to know the client’s geography.” A point which Lubabalo interjects with a measured cadence – “it is just as vital to have an idea of what is being consumed and how much of it is being consumed.”
Interested customers can get to register on the website. Upon clicking the “subscribe” button, the customer’s geographical location is also registered. This allows for them to identify the areas that have the most need for low-cost data services. To quote the rest of their Twitter header, “You simply need a Wi-Fi enabled device to use our wireless network. No sim cards. No cables. No routers.” They have been awarded the ICASA license which allows them to not only operate but to sell as well. This enables them to provide internet to mobile users, and to cater for events. As for events, there is a flexibility in terms of how it will be offered to those in attendance.
Between April and now, they have ‘developed over time, gradually, adapting to last in the changing environment in which they work’ (look up evolve). As a business, they truly have evolved from the time they began in April of 2019 and they continue to do so. Ideally speaking, they want to make a social impact and offer connectivity through financially sound and accessible prices. The distaste for expensive data prices is what drives this train.
You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on the handle @mdantsanemobile.
Written By: Anda Yoko