The University of Venda Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni and the Chairperson of UIGC Board, Thovhele Nthumeni Masia launched the first of its kind UIGC-Connect project which will benefit communities around Vhembe District Municipality. This momentous event took place in the evening of Friday, 25 February 2022 at 2Ten Hotel, Sibasa, outside Thohoyandou. 

Stakeholders and invited guests came in numbers to witness the historic launch of the UIGC Connect. The UNIVEN Innovative Growth Company (UIGC) PTY (LTD) is a company solely owned by the University of Venda. The launch marks a very important day in the history of the University of Venda, including the province at large. 

Delivering a speech of the launch, UNIVEN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni said “this is a historic day in the calendar of the University of Venda, not only that we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the University this year, but also the fact that we are gathered here for the official launch of the UIGC Connect”. Dr Nthambeleni told the guests that launching of the UIGC Connect is not accidental. “As a University, we took a deliberate strategic direction of being an impactful and resourceful university to communities around us”. He pointed that through the Integrated Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Biodiversity Plan, the University of Venda seeks to position itself as an anchor institution for the effective integrated local and regional development. “We also seek to transform our university to be an Entrepreneurial University”. He added that it is our strong view that the University of Venda must be a catalyst of development in its surrounding communities. 

Dr Nthambeleni alluded the fact that, to improve the quality of the lives of surrounding communities in Thohoyandou, the University of Venda held a workshop on University Town Concept for internal stakeholders. This led to the adoption of the strategic objective that measures the number of interventions that would lead to the development of Thohoyandou into a University town. 

“In line with our strategic intent of making impact to the surrounding communities, we have mandated our company, UIGC to position itself in manners that do not pose competition to the local communities but rather provide both a business enabling and supporting environment”. 

Dr Nthambeleni concluded his speech by saying “this project will create sustainable job opportunities and training spaces for TVET students, particularly those in the IT and Telecommunication space. As a University, we are committed to lead in the development of Limpopo and south Africa”. 

Dr John Mudau, CEO of UIGC presented on UIGC Connect Brand. “We are an internet service provider operating as UIGC-Connect. We build, operate, and maintain our own internet infrastructure within the Vhembe District Municipality ”, said Dr Mudau. This is an excellent 4th industrial revolution brand in the province. ICASA granted two licenses to UIGC which are as follows: 

• Class Electronic Communications Network Services Licence (No: 1743/CECNS/NOV/ 2020). 

• Class Electronic Communications Service Licence (No 1743/ CECS/ NOV/ 2020). 

According to Dr Mudau, the two licenses allow UIGC to build network infrastructure and to provide data to the public. He maintained that the University wants to ensure that its students particularly those who are in private residences have a stable internet connectivity. “The University has also been granted wayleaves by both Thulamela and Collins Chabane municipalities. These wayleaves allow the University through UIGC to build the network infrastructure in those areas”. He said UIGC Connect is the only company that can set up fibre in the district, 

He indicated that UIGC Connect will operate in phases. Phase one will benefit about 42 accredited private accommodation. Phase two will then cater for the public. Dr Mudau showed that UIGC Connect sim–cards which are in all languages, will soon be available in different outlets. He concluded by saying that UNIVEN will be the first university to provide wi-fi to the public. 

The Chairperson of the Board of UIGC, Thovhele Nthumeni Masia directs his greatest appreciation to the University Management led by Dr Nthambeleni for giving UIGC the opportunity to operate. He said that launching of UIGC Connect is the beginning of more innovations. 

Messages of support were from the Off-Campus accredited residence landlords represented by Ms Sebo Maphula of Maphula residence and Thovhele Gole Mphaphuli of the Mphaphuli Tribal Council. 

The keynote message was delivered by the MEC Thabo Mokone, responsible for Economic Development, Tourism, and Industry. The MEC commended UNIVEN for this initiative. He encouraged people within the province to work together for the sustainability of UIGC Connect project. The MEC indicated that as government they are working with the University in many projects including the Musina Makhado Special Economic Zone (MMSEZ). “With this kind of collaboration, a better life is on the way”, says MEC Mokone. Mr Thabo Mokone applauded UNIVEN for its outstanding contributions to the improvement of the lives and livelihoods of communities. 

The MEC was introduced by the Executive Mayor of Vhembe District Municipality, Cllr Dowelani Nenguda. 

As he welcomed the guests, Dr Takalani Dzaga, Director of Marketing, Branding and Communication said “It is evident that in order to ensure the continuity of businesses during the period of COVID-19, information technology was the only solution and continues to be the only solution. There is no doubt that digital connectivity is now a global imperative. It is evident that access to the internet is becoming a fundamental right. There is no doubt that Digital connectivity is one of pivotal actors and change maker in society’’. 

Also in attendance was the UNIVEN Executive and Senior Management, Council members, UIGC Board and staff, SRC President, and Secretary General, ; Mayor of Thulamela Municipality; APSA Union representatives; Off-campus accredited residences landlords; Guests from BMF; Standard Bank representatives; SAMSUNG On Campus representatives; MTN representative; Vodacom representatives; GEMS representatives; Thavhani Mall representatives; business partners, and representatives of different media houses. 

The programme was directed by Ashifashaba Shonisani Muleya. 

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Services, Dr Robert Martin proposed a vote of thanks. He thanked and appreciated all the people who participated in the programme including UNIVEN choir and Dr Colbert Mukwevho who entertained the guests. Dr Martin indicated to the guests that this launch confirms that UNIVEN is in the right direction and that it is impacting the world in its rural setting. Finally, he said that UNIVEN is indeed a world class institution. 

Issued by: 

Department of Marketing, Branding & Communication 

University of Venda 

Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710 

Date: 28 February 2022 

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