Cape Town — MORE than 6,6 million residents in the Western Cape will soon have greater access to public Wi-Fi following a partnership between Liquid Telecom SA and the provincial government.
The partnership will culminate in the number of free public Wi-Fi hotspots across the region increase from 178 to 1 600.
This project forms part of a R3 billion plan to provide broadband connectivity to government offices, libraries, schools and clinics, and helps to position the Western Cape region as a leading global digital hub.
Reshaad Sha, Chief Executive Officer at Liquid Telecom SA, said the partnership with the province was aligned with Liquid Telecom's vision to 'Build Africa's Digital Future', providing individuals and communities with high speed internet across cities, towns and villages.
"Our partnership with the Western Cape Government is central to this vision - giving every South African the right to be connected with free, reliable and fast internet," Sha said.
Western Cape households already have the highest internet access in the country at 70,8 percent according to Statistics South Africa.
The new expanded public Wi-Fi network will be available across all municipalities and provide 3GB of data per device per month at speeds five times faster than the current service.
Premier Helen Zille said the provincial government had reached its target of full broadband coverage with a total of 1 875 sites, including over 1 200 schools, 200 libraries and approximately 400 other public facilities.
She said broadband was a key enabler for government's eLearning Game Changer, which aimed to enhance teaching and learning using digital technology, focusing in particular on our poorer schools.
The Education Depeartment has invested R253 million towards e-learning in the 2018/ 2019 financial year and over R1,2 billion over a five-year period.
During this term, it has refreshed 700 computer labs, delivered more 32 000 devices, created an online portal with 11 000 resources and trained teachers to a point where 70 percent are improving at eTeaching.
As the cost of mobile broadband is prohibitive for many, particularly rural communities, public access Wi-Fi networks present an opportunity for citizens to connect and access employment and business opportunities.