The Western Cape government aims to provide 1,000 schools in the province with broadband internet access of 10mbps within the next two years.
The provincial government has identified broadband connectivity as a key driver of economic development. Further, this would help create an internationally competitive knowledge economy.
Provincial department of economic development chief director for strategic initiatives Jo-Ann Johnston said the target was to provide the 1,000 schools with broadband access of 10mbps by the end of 2014. She was speaking during the quarterly meeting of business think-tank Accelerate Cape Town.
"The key question is how this improved connectivity will translate into the classroom and what additional skills will be required to make effective use of this new facility," Johnston said.
The Western Cape town of Stellenbosch is also busy rolling out free WiFi services to all of its residents and visitors - a first for the continent.
Earlier this year, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said the province aimed to create the largest mesh network in the world within two years. This would connect all households in Khayelitsha, Mitchell's Plain and Saldanha Bay, including the proposed industrial development zone.
Last week, provincial economic development and finance MEC Alan Winde said in his medium-term budget policy statement that R240m would be set aside for broadband connectivity, which would increase the ease of doing business and access to government services.
The provincial Wireless Access Network will in its first phase connect schools, government buildings and rural libraries. It will ultimately become a province-wide wireless network and is scheduled for completion by 2020.
Accelerate Cape Town chief executive Chris Whelan said introducing such technology in the education, healthcare, transport and safety and security sectors would contribute to the development of a "smart city".
"One of the most exciting steps the city is taking in becoming a smart city is the fibre network roll-out that is currently under way," Whelan said. "This will radically improve the connectivity of businesses, government and residents, and bring significant benefits to all."
Cape Town has so far invested R150m in broadband infrastructure and it is expected the project will cost R1.3bn over seven to 10 years. The provincial government has made it clear that it would back the project.
Source: Business Day via I-Net Bridge
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