From left: Reshaad Sha, chief executive of Liquid Telecom, Premier Helen Zille and Advocate Brent Gerber, Western Cape Government director-general. Photo: Supplied

CAPE TOWN – More than 6 million residents in the Western Cape will benefit from the Western Cape government’s plan to expand public wifi service, set to create employment for up to 60 people a month.

The Western Cape government announced its partnership with Liquid Telecommunications SA (LTSA) in Cape Town yesterday which will further extend this advantage by expanding the number of limited free  public wifi hotspots at government buildings to 1 600. 

Premier Helen Zille said the project forms part of a R3 billion plan to expand on broadband connectivity in the Western Cape government libraries, schools, clinics and offices and helps to position the region as a leading global digital hub.

As of December the new expanded public wifi network will be available across all municipalities and now with a boost of 3GB of data per device a month, at speeds five times faster than the current service.

Zille said households in the Western Cape already had the highest internet access in the country at 70.8 percent, according to StatsSA 2018.

She said most people and communities in rural and remote areas relied on cellphones to stay in touch and conduct business.

“Since mobile broadband costs are still very high to many citizens, public access wifi networks present an opportunity for citizens to connect, not only to each other, but also to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Zille.

Reshaad Sha, chief executive of Liquid Telecom SA, said yesterday’s announcement was aligned with Liquid Telecom’s vision to “Build Africa’s Digital Future” providing people 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,” said Sha.

Zille said government websites will also remain permanently free for users to access and the country’s cheapest wifi vouchers for additional data on the network are also still available at selected retailers.

She said each of the public wifi hotspots will allow users with wifi enabled devices including cellphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers to connect to the wifi hotspot without any logins or password and the hotspots will be installed over the next three years with the project running for five years in total.

“We also know that the way in which young people interact, engage and learn is changing and we understand the importance of connectivity in creating opportunity and opening up a world of knowledge for people of all ages. 

“The Western Cape government’s Broadband Game Changer is striving towards a region where every resident in every town and village has access to affordable high speed broadband infrastructure and services, has the necessary skills to use it, and is actively doing so in their day-to-day lives,” said Zille.