Department of Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has noted ambitious plans by government to give all residents in South Africa internet access within 24 months.
The minister made the comments during her opening remarks at a meeting of BRICS Ministers of Communications.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the extent of the digital divide in South Africa and the rest of the developing world,” Ntshavheni said.
“The divide has been evident during this period, between those with access to connectivity and those without; as basic services such as access to education, health, access to work and the ability to continue to operate one’s business in the event of small businesses or SMMEs moved to virtual platforms.”
She noted that families and schools that had access to reliable internet could engage in remote learning with ease.
She also said that the government had acknowledged that the economy was becoming predominantly digital.
As a result, closing the digital divide has become a primary priority for the government.
Plans to give all people in South Africa internet access
Minister Ntshavheni said that the department is considering a programme to fast-track the rollout of internet locally.
“We are considering a programme to fast track the connection of all South Africans or to ensure that all South Africans have access to internet connection within the next 24 months as part of responding to bridging this digital divide,” she said.
“Access to internet connectivity will not only enable access to services, but will also open opportunities for applications and systems that are developed in South Africa and elsewhere in the world, to be accessible to all people of South Africa, promote collaboration in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) including in BRICS. ”
She also called for cooperation between BRICS countries when it comes to enhancing each others’ technological innovations.
The speech did not detail how government plans to roll out more access to internet. However, there are various technologies available locally.
Earlier this year, the Department of Science and Innovation announced that it was helping to fund the development of an affordable internet solution for low-income communities.
Meanwhile, there are options for LTE, broadband, fibre, and even satellite internet available locally.
Read more: Google commits $1 billion to digital transformation in Africa
Feature image: Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels