Pretoria to introduce free internet in public spaces

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The capital city is set to offer free access to the internet in public spaces.

Poor communities, schools and high-density areas in the city have been targeted for the first phase of the project

The city of Tshwane says the project will be life changing especially for the youth.

Meanwhile, the Gauteng provincial government is planning to issue tablets with internet connectivity to more than 2 000 Gauteng schools by 2014.

Can you imagine going online while you’re waiting at a bus stop or queuing to pay your water and lights bill?

If all goes well, that’s what Pretoria residents will be doing in the near future.

Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa says “The City of Tshwane will be the first metro in the country to provide city-wide free Wi-Fi. Come November, Church Square will be one of five zones, where you can surf the net free of charge – and you [won’t] even need a password.”

Impoverished communities have been targeted for the first phase, which comes with a price tag of R1 million.

The mayor continues, “The second phase, the 219 schools in Atteridgeville, Soshanguve and Mamelodi will be up and running before the end of calendar year in 2014 and third phase in 2015. We are extending it in the main to government institutions and all other institutions of higher learning.”

The project is part of a collaborative effort by NGOs to bring free Wi-Fi to the continent.

“The intent is to show governments as well as private sector that bandwidth can be treated just as you treat electricity and water,” says Project Isizwe representative Alan Knott-Craig.

And government thinks the country is more than ready.

Dumsani Otumile of Tshwane ICT Management says, “We no longer think of Wi-Fi as a luxury, we think of Wi-Fi as the same as electricity and water  – it’s a commodity for us.”

Tshwane is following in Stellenbosch’s footsteps.

Technology experts have given that city’s project the thumbs-up, saying it bridges the digital divide.

-eNCA