Regent’s MAHALABox makes sure SA’s most vulnerable don’t get lost in the digital divide

Regent's MAHALABox makes sure SA's most vulnerable don't get lost in the digital divide

Written by Staff Writer

10/11/2021

By Dr. Ridwaan Asvat, Director Academic Operations at Regent Business School

 

Assisting the most vulnerable

One of the biggest hurdles facing South Africa’s many job seekers is access to vital online resources, including recruitment sites. Stats SA reported in August that the official unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2021 was a record 34.4%, one of the many social ills plaguing the country’s most vulnerable.

 

MAHALABox Initiative

REGENT BUSINESS SCHOOL has developed the MAHALABox to try to make a difference. When the box is connected to a cellphone, users can download videos, e-books and other crucial information without data or access to the internet.

“It is our solution for bringing important skills and resources to students, the unemployed and the youth in local communities, who may not otherwise have access to the internet or such curated digital resources. It is our hope that by providing such a service, it may afford better opportunities to these people,” says the operations director at REGENT BUSINESS SCHOOL.

While many South Africans have a smartphone, the cost of data can put internet access out of reach, and this digital divide reinforces the inequalities too many South Africans face each day. Almost 60-million smartphones are connected to mobile networks in South Africa everyday, which is why the MAHALABox requires just a smartphone to turn it into a one-stop shop for a wide range of information and job placements, along with access to agencies, employers and recruiters – all of which would be impossible without data. The MAHALABox allows users to download books, videos, templates and other important content and services, including self-help, emotional intelligence exercises, career assessments, aptitude tests, CV templates and interview preparation – all for free.

 

Making a difference

As load-shedding returns, another big plus is that the MAHALABox can be powered with solar energy. “By making use of a solar panel and a rechargeable battery, the box can be powered with solar power. It uses low voltage, so requires minimal power input and uses this energy efficiently. It also uses a cheap, ready-made mini-computer that can be easily mounted or be portable – making the solution cost effective, feasible and scalable,” says Asvat.

The MAHALABox may be a way to offer free internet access, but that does not make the content available cheap. “New content can be updated and featured on a regular basis, which will then attract future users and retain them too, thus promoting sustainability and longevity of the system,” says Asvat.

Mahala means free in Zulu, meaning no cost, but the MAHALABox also has the ability to free South Africans from the shackles of unemployment.

 

Since 1998, REGENT BUSINESS SCHOOL (RBS) has been at the forefront of premium management education across the continent. Headquartered in South Africa, RBS’s acclaimed business, finance and management programmes have helped individuals and organisations build and sustain competitive advantages in a rapidly-changing, complex business environment. With campuses in all major hubs of South Africa, including Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria, as well as in SADC countries, Swaziland and Namibia, the institution’s alumni base of 10,000 is rapidly expanding.  RBS’s leading centres for excellence – The Institute of Entrepreneurship, The Centre for Islamic Finance and Banking, and The Centre for Public Sector Administration Management and Innovation – are popular with high performers who are serious about making positive, impactful change within the global finance and management sectors. Its latest 4IR innovation hub and academic makerspace, the iLeadLAB, is at the forefront of the institution’s strategy to empower students and stakeholders with in-demand skills as well as the hard and soft digital skills for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

 

*Check out the latest edition of the Public Sector Leaders publication here.

For enquiries, regarding being profiled or showcased in the next edition of the Public Sector Leaders publication, please contact National Project Manager, Emlyn Dunn: 

Telephone: 086 000 9590 |  Mobile: 072 126 3962 |  e-Mail: [email protected]

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