Social Innovation Register streamlines zero-rating application process for PBOs

For the first time, South Africa has a registry of public benefit organisations eligible for zero-rating on data, making it even easier for mobile network operators to zero-rate the mobile content of these organisations.

Zero-rating is a game-changer for NGOs who provide public benefit content in, for example, education and health. It puts useful, often necessary content in the hands of more South Africans, which has the potential to transform lives in our poorest communities.

During the Covid-19 pandemic the government, through the national state of disaster, instructed mobile network operators (MNOs) to zero-rate the content of public benefit organisations (PBOs). Some complied – most under duress, and some only after they were threatened with court action.

The DG Murray Trust (DGMT) subsequently joined forces with CN&CO partner Brownie Points to introduce the Social Innovation Register, a pioneering initiative aimed at removing barriers to high-quality educational content for South Africans. Pascale Du Toit-Henke, Co-Founder of Brownie Points, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, stating, “Our goal is to create awareness about the change so PBOs know they can apply, and to give them a user-friendly platform.”

DGMT, a South African philanthropic foundation, has been a key player in advocating for public benefit content to be zero-rated. This year, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) published the regulation, making it obligatory for MNOs acquiring licenses. The Social Innovation Register offers an efficient solution to fast-track the establishment of a single application process for qualifying PBOs.

Du Toit-Henke further explained, “Brownie Points is a specialist in the PBO and NPO space, and we are thrilled that the DG Murray Trust has selected us as its service provider.”

The Social Innovation Register allows registered PBOs to submit their locally hosted websites, either to list already zero-rated sites or to request zero-rating for their websites.

“We would like to see as many PBO websites becoming zero-rated as possible,” says Du Toit-Henke.

Du Toit-Henke said Brownie Points was able to launch the Social Innovation Register six weeks earlier than expected.

“This early launch aimed to build a robust database of PBO applications, facilitating discussions with ICASA and MNOs to enforce the new regulation.”

Du Toit-Henke emphasised the need for cooperation from major MNOs – Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Rain and Telkom – to support this initiative and showcase their commitment to social impact.

For more information, visit DGMT’s website and the Social Innovation Register website.

Blake brings a lot of energy, passion and heart into everything he does. He is extremely passionate about our country, it’s people and the environment. He is based in Cape Town and is happiest when he is running around exploring the beauty of the mountains.