Pretoria- Within the next three years, the City of Tshwane will be the first metro on the African continent to have its residents covered with wi-fi on a massive scale.
Executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa on Thursday launched the city’s latest project that will give free wi-fi and internet access to more than 200 schools and tertiary institutions in disadvantaged areas in the city – all for the sake of improving education and granting students and pupils educational resources.
Poor and previously disadvantaged communities will be given priority.
“We are investing in the Tshwane child to broaden their platform of opportunities,” Ramokgopa said at the launch in Centurion.
By November five locations in the city will have free wi-fi: the Tshwane University of Technology’s Soshanguve campus, the University of Pretoria’s Hatfield campus, Tshwane North College, the Mamelodi Community Centre and Church Square in the CBD.
It is estimated that the first phase will cost the city R1-million.
Ramokgopa said investing in education would ultimately lead to poverty alleviation, making the city a “research and knowledge capital city”.
The aim of the project is to provide young people with access to the internet for educational purposes.
In 2014, wi-fi will be provided to more than 200 schools in the Soshanguve, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville areas.
By 2016, government education institutions and other areas in the city will be provided with the free service.
The city partnered Project Isizwe, started by Pretoria-born Alan Knott-Craig jr this year, a non-profit global movement aimed at bringing free wi-fi to Africa.
This is the first project of such scale within a local government. A similar project is under way in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape.
Users can access the internet without a password for nothing and will have to agree to a fair-use agreement. They can download 250 megabytes worth of data a day at a speed of one megabyte a second.
Knott-Craig said the service would be as secure to use as other wi-fi services.
The service will be available in public spaces and anyone can connect within the radius of reception.
“You can use it outside. You don’t have to be inside a building,” Knott-Craig said.
Certain websites, not appropriate for pupils or young people, would be blocked.
Knott-Craig said a project of this scale had only recently become possible because of the decreasing costs of bandwidth and equipment.
The service would remain free.
“There are no catches,” said Knott-Craig, who previously was the chief executive of Mxit.
“I am impressed with the eagerness of the city to implement this project,” he said.
Ramokgopa said the project was a defining moment for the city and would help improve education and innovation for young minds.
“This is the single biggest announcement I have made in my term,” Ramokgopa said.
A similar project was launched by former mayor Dr Gwen Ramokgopa in 2009.
Dumisani Otumile, group chief information officer of the city, said the current project escalated from the previous one.
“We are taking it to another level,” said Otumile. – Pretoria News