Cape Town – The provincial government of Gauteng is bumping up spending on its broadband programme in a bid to improve its digital capabilities..
Member of the Executive Council for Finance, Barbara Creecy, this week announced an increase of R325m on broadband for the Gauteng Broadband Network in her budget speech.
Creecy said the money would be used to connect 300 sites in the current financial year as well as maintain existing networks.
Gauteng is on a drive to identify itself as a digital forward province and Creecy announced an increase in funding for the Tshwane Innovation Hub of R30m, bring the budget for the small business innovation unit to R95.3m.
“This money will allow the Innovation Hub to extend its support to young innovators as well as extend the Ekasi Lab programme in particular in Sebokeng Township and Mohlakeng Township (R3.5m each),” Creecy said of the allocation.
In his address to the Gauteng City Region e-Government and ICT summit in November 2015, Premier David Makhura highlighted the importance internet access to the province.
“The National Development Plan and our Provincial Ten-pillar programme for transformation, modernisation and re-industrialisation of Gauteng place high premium on access to broadband connectivity and bridging the digital divide as a key goal of sustainable development.”
The spending on broadband in the province contrasts comes after the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan allocated R1.6bn to the roll-out of broadband in remote areas and government institutions.
In Gauteng, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni have rolled out robust public Wi-Fi programmes to drive internet access for citizens.
Tshwane’s programme has cost R180m so far and Ekurhuleni plans to spend up to R120m on broadband which has emerged as a key driver for “smart cities”.
“Pervasive high-speed connectivity is the catalyst of and foundation for the development of a smart city. It is this connectivity that will enable effective data collection and analytics to ensure continuous improvement along with the use of mobile technologies to reach every citizen in South Africa,” said Reshaad Sha, chief strategy officer at Dark Fibre Africa, an infrastructure provider.
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