COMPUTER LAP TOP/ WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY: A local surfs the Web in the street in the northern Salamanca town in this December 15, 2006 file photo. Salamanca, 200 miles (316 km) north of the capital Santiago, became Chile's first WiFi town in September. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet hailed the project as the first of its kind in South America and as a major step toward "cutting the gap between rich and poor, between the capital and the regions, between the large and small cities". To match feature CHILE-WIRELESS/ REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/Files (CHILE)

Pretoria - More than a million schoolchildren in Tshwane now have access to free wi-fi.

On Wednesday Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa launched the second phase of the free wi-fi roll-out at HL Setlalentoa High School in Ga-Rankuwa.

Phase two will deploy a capacity for 1 million users in public spaces around 213 schools in Soshanguve, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville, making Tshwane the largest provider of free wi-fi in South Africa.

The roll-out is part of the city’s plan to embrace digital technology, with a core focus on harnessing the power of the internet for education, economic development and social inclusion.

This move is in partnership with Project Isizwe, a non-profit organisation taking the internet to people across South Africa, by facilitating the roll-out of free wi-fi in low-income communities.

Ramokgopa announced in the 2014/15 budget speech that provision of free wi-fi had become a new municipal basic service and that R150 million had been allocated towards the roll-out of additional free wi-fi sites.

Alan Knott-Craig, chief executive officer at Project Isizwe, said Tshwane was showing the world that internet access could be treated as a basic service, the same as water and electricity.

“It’s not a question of ‘if’ internet access will one day be a basic free service for all residents of South Africa; it’s a question of ‘when’. Tshwane is leading the way in showing the public sector how to make it a reality sooner rather than later,” said Knott-Craig.

The city plans to start the phase three roll-out next month. This phase will see 400 more sites going live with a capacity for 2 million more users.

Pretoria News