The South African government has formally allocated R2.5 billion ZAR towards the development of a national broadband network.
As the #DataMustFall initiative marches forward in an attempt to lower the exorbitant costs of broadband and cellular connectivity in South Africa, we – at last – have a shred of hope to hold on to; government has formally allocated R2.5 billion towards the development of a national broadband network.
Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, presided over the announcement, stating that “œthe government wants the entire country to have access to high-speed Internet within the next four years. There is still a shortfall in our funding, but we hope to start rolling out broadband as soon as possible… We are sure additional money will come in as we start building.“
President Jacob Zuma announced the first phase of the national broadband roll-out in his 2015 State of the Nation address. Eight district municipalities would be among the first to benefit from the initiative.
Those municipalities include Dr Kenneth Kaunda in North West, Gert Sibande in Mpumalanga, OR Tambo in the Eastern Cape, Pixley ka Seme in the Northern Cape, Thabo Mofutsanyane in the Free State, Umgungundlovu and Umzinyathi in KwaZulu-Natal, and Vhembe in Limpopo.
Cwele reiterated in an interview with Bloomberg that those municipalities will be the first to access the national broadband network.
While it is presently uncertain as to when the project will be completed, South Africa’s broadband policy stipulates that 50% of South Africans must have access to a 5mbps connection by 2016, and that 90% of South Africans must have access to a 5mbps connection by 2020, while 50% of citizens must be able to achieve a connection speed of 100mbps by the same year.
Cwele outlined that the roll-out process will be kept in-line with South Africa’s broadband policy, citing that “œWe are also practicing this coordination at the implementation level through Provincial Broadband Steering Committees that seek to align all broadband activities to the South Africa Connect.“
The news comes amidst a wave of frustration amongst South Africans who are railing against the high cost of internet connectivity in the country. While the EFF has become the first political party to support the #DataMustFall movement, the Cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town have both begun introducing their own free Wi-Fi zones.
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