Cape Town - Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha could be the first historically poor areas in the Cape metro to get free wi-fi around all of their schools and libraries if Cape Town partners with Project Isizwe, an initiative to spread free wi-fi across Africa.
Headed by former head of Mxit, Alan Knott-Craig jr, Project Isizwe, a non-profit company, was launched this year, with the City of Tshwane being the first metro in the country to fund the service.
Knott-Craig said he was now looking to partner with the city to start the free wi-fi service in two of the biggest low-income areas on the Cape Flats. He said it would cost about R15-million to get free wi-fi around all schools, libraries and other education facilities in Mitchells Plain for five years, and the same amount for Khayelitsha.
If the city agrees to fund the initial projects, Knott-Craig said the plan would be to extend the service to areas like Parow and Elsies River and ultimately to all public areas around education facilities in the city.
Last week, the Tshwane municipality announced its commitment to fund a three-phase roll-out of the free service to all education facilities by 2016 at a cost of more than R1-billion.
Knott-Craig said the primary goals of the service were to improve education and address unemployment.
“Children need access to information for their projects and for the many people looking for work, they need to be able to have access to information about jobs and be able to send an e-mail to apply for work,” he said.
Project Isizwe will roll out free wi-fi by obtaining funding from municipalities and then finding an IT partner to install, operate and maintain the service.
Free bandwidth is sourced from, or donated by, companies which get a tax reduction certificate or B BBEE certificate in exchange for their donation.
“This is a way of getting the most cost-efficient telecommunications. The idea is to provide this to lower-income areas where in the end we provide a certain portion of internet access for free, the same as water and electricity, and this could be a way of starting that precedent in Cape Town,” Knott-Craig said.
When it comes to internet access, there is a desert in the Cape Flats and we are trying to tap into those streams to get internet access up.”
Mayco member for corporate services Demetri Qually said: “Our information technology and systems department has already been in discussions with their project team, and will continue to do so in order to establish potential synergies”.
The city had also done a feasibility study with the US Trade and Development Agency to assess the viability and sustainability of extending affordable internet services to the under-connected areas of Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha.
The study was complete and its findings were being evaluated. - Cape Times