Zenzeleni is community network through which rural communities have ownership of their telecommunication businesses, allowing them to maximise value and benefits. It is a spin-off of the University of the Western Cape created in partnership with the Mankosi community, in one of the most disadvantaged areas of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The Zenzeleni model addresses multiple technical, financial, legal and social approaches towards bridging the digital divide.
This network is managed by a non-profit organisation, Zenzeleni Networks NPC, which plays a facilitator role to ensure that the needs of the community are fulfilled. The first internet service provider (ISP) in this ecosystem, Zenzeleni Networks Mankosi Co-op Ltd, has connected more than 13,000 people and 10 institutions, offering prices as much as 20 times lower than those offered by existing operators. In addition, it is able to provide network service of substantially better quality than the large network operators. Zenzeleni Networks Mankosi is a 100% Black, 40% women-owned telecommunications cooperative that has been legally sanctioned by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and holds Electronic Communications Services (ECS) and Electronic Communications Network Services (ECNS) exemptions.