More than 90 000 residents will be able to access wireless internet through the Western Cape Government’s free Wi-Fi pilot project.
Alan Winde, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, officially launched the Free Wi-Fi pilot project at The Hague Primary School in Delft this morning (18 March 2014).
Delft is one of four areas which have been chosen for the pilot project. Atlantis, Robertson and the Garden Route are the other locations.
In November last year, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism opened the call for proposals for non-profit organisations to access grant funding to set up free Wi-Fi zones.
“Through this pilot 90 000 people in four spaces in the Western Cape are going to be connected to the internet.The top NPO’s were selected based on the strength of their proposals and which models would reach the most residents. In total 91 730 residents will be connected in this pilot. The aim of this project is to see what models works best, so we can replicate this across the Western Cape. Eventually, every resident must have access to free or affordable internet,” said Minister Winde.
Speaking at this morning’s launch, Minister Winde outlined how the Delft project was improving education outcomes.
“The progress here at the Hague Primary School has demonstrated the power of connectivity. With a focus on maths, school teachers are working with a developer to create content for applications. I’m pleased that more schools will be connected as part of this pilot project and it’s encouraging to see teachers embracing technology,” said Minister Winde.
In Delft, the project is being managed by the Home of Compassion Ministries. The aim of their project is to connect 22 local schools. With the schools acting as a central connection point, it is estimated that 43 000 people will be reached. The project has already started going live.
Project Isizwe is the NPO running the pilot projects in Atlantis and Robertson. In Robertson, 9 350 people will reached. In Atlantis, 19 380 people will be connected. The zones are set up at local schools in both areas. The complete project goes live in July.
Along the Garden Route, Digital Village Communication aims to take Wi-Fi to 20 000 people. Their plan focuses on areas where large numbers of residents gather, including local taxi ranks. The first hotspot is already live in Conville in George.
“All of the NPO’s included training programmes for residents in their proposals. One of the NPO’s has a ‘Wi-Fi” champion to spread the message and work with communities. We want people to know about this service and how to access it so that it becomes an asset for communities and we start to see the real benefits of connectivity in terms of growth and job creation,” said Minister Winde.