Elsies River to become home to new Digital Access Centre

The Western Cape Government, in partnership with the City of Cape Town, announced yesterday that a R2.8 million digital access centre is set to be launched in Elsies River.

April 23, 2014

The Western Cape Government, in partnership with the City of Cape Town, announced yesterday that a R2.8 million digital access centre is set to be launched in Elsies River.

The Interactive Community Access Network (ICAN) Centre forms part of the roll out of the Western Cape Government’s R1.3 billion broadband plan to connect communities across the province over the next three years.

Residents will have access to Wi-Fi hotspots, meeting rooms, video-conference facilities, training workshops, study rooms and sound-proof recording booths.

The initiative builds on the success of the City of Cape Town’s broadband initiative in which R222 million has been set aside over three years towards the roll out of broadband infrastructure throughout the Metro.

This project has allowed the City and the Western Cape Government to contain and reduce spending on their internal telecommunications costs.

The network has saved R47.6m in telecommunications costs and avoided R70m of bandwidth costs for 2013/2014 financial year. In turn, these savings become available for economic development initiatives such as the proposed ICAN Centre.

This Centre, which is a pilot project, will be located at the Elsies River Multi-Purpose Centre which will undergo substantial refurbishments in the months ahead.

The centre is funded by the Western Cape Government in partnership with the City of Cape Town which has provided the site and will manage the installation of the infrastructure and equipment.

Today, Alan Winde, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, announced the concept, explaining that the Department of Economic Development and Tourism would open the call for NPO’s to apply to operate the centre in the next two weeks.

Minister Winde said the successful NPO operator would be required to ensure that Elsies River residents are brought on board to assist with the management of the facility.

Minister Winde, Alderman Demetri Qually, the Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services, and Councillor Suzette Little, the Mayoral Committee Member for Social Development, briefed the media on the ICAN concept.

Minister Winde said: “The Centre will consist of open spaces for learning, innovation and knowledge production. It will be a space for the entire community. Local entrepreneurs can come and grow their business ideas, learners will have a study resource space and residents will be able to further their ICT training. Key to the success of the centre will be the social entrepreneurship model. In this model, government partners with local entrepreneurs to establish and maintain public facilities. This model ensures that business opportunities are created for local emerging SMMEs.”

Little said: “By housing this project in Elsies River, the prospects to address social challenges are endless.”

Qually agreed, adding: “Through our experience in the Smart Cape Initiative, this project has the ability to grow and expand far beyond our expectations.”

“This project will complement the success of the City’s SmartCape project, which provides free Internet access at 102 public libraries throughout the Metro. Today the SmartCape project has extended to provide Wi-Fi Internet access in public buildings, and has over 300 000 users,” said Qually.

The Centre has different zones catering for the entire community:

  • ICAN Learn will support various community learning initiatives. It is a training centre incorporated within the ICAN centre. It will be shared between school learners and the rest of the community.
  • ICAN Study is specifically equipped to support learners and members of the community who are studying. It is intended to be a quieter, more study oriented space. It is also intended that this is a supervised zone and that linkages with the schools in the area would be established.
  • ICAN Create is a space for community innovation, local knowledge creation and entrepreneurship.
  • ICAN Play is a gaming lab. Research indicates that the right type of video games and interactive media can have a positive impact on self-efficacy which increases resilience, optimism, and motivation.
  • The heart of the Centre is the ICAN Community Commercial Services Zone, which provides all of the support and shared services to the other zones
  • Various training programmes will be housed and offered at this centre with stakeholders supporting such programmes including FET Colleges, Adult Learning Centres, and Tertiary Institutions such as the University of the Western Cape through their Centre for Innovative Educational and Communication Technologies.

The Department of Economic Development and Tourism will open the call for NPO’s to submit proposals to run the centre in the next two weeks. Interested NPO’s can email [email protected] for the terms of reference.