The African Storybook (ASb) website is one of the 39 Department of Basic Education approved zero-rate local educational websites of Public Benefit Organisations (PBO). The PBOs provide access to online educational resources to students at no cost in order to allow students to continue their studies especially during the trying times of the COVID 19 pandemic. Zero-rated sites provide content at no cost to the user as the operational costs are borne by the network operators.
DGMT is a strong advocate for the zero-rating of PBO’s digital content by mobile network operators, with its Improving Zero-Rated Public Benefit Organisations project aimed at supporting PBOs improve their site's offering and increase engagement with their beneficiaries. DGMT’s funding to Saide will help to develop and test low-bulk downloading of storybooks from the ASb website for offline use.
Over 50% of [i]South Africans have smartphones and other devices that access the internet, however high costs of data charged by mobile networks make it very difficult for students to access digital content to help them in their education and participation in the digital society.
While the latest 2020 ICASA State of ICT Sector Report indicates that data usage has been steadily increasing over the past 5 years, 47% of South Africans who are over 15 years of age still don’t use the internet and report unaffordability of devices and data services as the main barrier.
South Africa’s National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper states that, “everyone in South Africa, regardless of who they are, where they live or their socio-economic status can improve the quality of their lives through accessing the benefits of participating in the digital society.’’
 The State of the ICT Sector Report in South Africa 2020. Independent Communications Authority of South Africa
[i] According to the recent Pew Study the mobile phone penetration in South Africa is high with 51% of population owning a smartphone, 49% with a basic phone and only 1% reported not to have a cell phone.