The DCDT’s Programme to Bridge the Digital Divide in South Africa
The South African strategy, “SA Connect” aims to ensure that 80% of the population has access to the internet via smartphones by 2025 and that the digital economy contributes 30% of GDP by 2028. All households will be provided with a free 10gbs of data per year; all public-school students will be given an email address; e-IDs are planned and government data on the population will be connected to ensure a seamless process rather than stored by each government agency or ministry in silos. New rules have also been put in place to ensure that cloud computing and data storage practices are followed by the government.
As the DCDT Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni reported to Parliament on 15 February: “In the next three years, we will connect 44,800 government sites (including 18,036 schools, 3,873 health facilities, 949 libraries, and Thusong centres, and 8,241 tribal authority sites that will be connected through the telecommunications operators). In the same period, we will roll out more than 33,000 community Wi-Fi and broadband to households [via base stations].” This sophisticated strategy is designed to drive content and ensure that the digital divide disappears within a reasonable timescale. It provides a financial sustainable model by combining public and private engagement. Despite the “must cover” requirements, the first phase of awarding mobile phone licenses was completed in early March and has been an enormous success, raising over $1bn, according to the Minister speaking at a Naspers’s meeting on 23 March.
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