The Limpopo Government will spend a whooping R585 Million over three years on free Wi-Fi as part of its broadband telecommunication network infrastructure roll-out in the province.
Speaking to African Times on Tuesday, Provincial Government spokesperson Phuti Seloba confirmed that the investment is the first phase of the project, and will likely expand to R1.5 billion to cover the whole province.
He added that the first phase of the pilot project was Polokwane, Mankweng and Seshego and that the Free Wi-Fi service will provide a unique opportunity for the people of Limpopo to become active participants in the knowledge economy.
“This will assist the province very much. Young people will be able to download material for their assignments for free. Most of our SMME’s who can’t afford the internet for example, when you don’t have a contract. How do you then spend more than R700 on data? Where do you get that money?
“Now people can run visual offices and operate from a restaurant somewhere. Another thing is that it’s going to improve small business around town because if you go to library gardens for instance and you start using the internet. Chances are you will get hungry and maybe a pizza or something,” Seloba said.
He said that even unemployed graduates can go to the free Wi-Fi spots every day to check for available opportunities and provided 260 megabytes a day per person.
“Government provides the free Wi-Fi at the Library Gardens and Polokwane Municipality Offices and the free ‘Wi-Fi services are plug-and-play. In other words there is no password needed to connect to the services within the two areas mentioned above. This service will provide users with 250mb of data daily.
“We are starting in Polokwane because Polokwane is the centre. It’s the hub so when you talk about your data centres deploying your routers you will use the infrastructure available in the city and once you are done with that we can roll it out to other arrears then we will go to those areas that start with GA or HA, for instance Ga-Maja which are special economic zones,” he boasted.
He said the project would run through Limpopo connection which is a subsidiary of Limpopo Economic Development Agency (LEDA), a parastatal of the provincial government.
Seloba said this will ensure there is poverty reduction, SMME’s development and some of the benefits would be in health and education.
“The implementation of the ICT projects demonstrates the commitment made by Premier Chupu Mathabatha during the 2018/19 State of the Province Address this year.”
Seloba said this is the one milestone of taking Limpopo Province forward towards accessibility, affordability, quality and availability of broadband network services.
Over 90% of the libraries in Limpopo Province are well equipped with ICT infrastructure to enhance reading and learning experience, he added.
Spokesperson for Polokwane municipality, Disree Manyane said that the City welcomed the project with both hands.
“We obviously accept and appreciate the project because it’s active. It’s going to benefit the public of Polokwane in general and we are waiting for it and welcome it with open arms,” Manyane said.