Durban – A new initiative launched by government and the private sector in Durban today will aim to connect millions of South Africans to the internet over the next two years.
Dubbed, Internet for All, the initiative was launched at the World Economic Forum in 2015. But it only comes to South Africa now. It aims to accelerate internet access and adoption to the world’s four billion unconnected people through new models of public private collaboration. In South Africa, the initiative will help the country speed up its target of connecting more than 22 million unconnected people.
Speaking at launch of the initiative at the World Economic Forum on Africa, Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele said government was excited about the programme, adding that it will meet the goal of connecting all South Africans by 2020.
“This project will help us meet our national development goals of reaching everyone by 2020. It is an enormous target but I think it is achievable if we work together to spread the infrastructure where it is not available,” said Minister Cwele.
The costs of the roll out of the initiate is currently estimated at around 64 US Dollars per person but could go slightly down if other factors such as infrastructure sharing are factored in.
But some argue that in South Africa, the issue of access is not so much a concern and that the real debate is about high data costs. Last year, popular radio jock Thabo Molefe, also known as TBo Touch, petitioned Parliament to look into the issue of high data cost, in a campaign that later became known as “data must fall”.
But on Friday, Minister Cwele said legislators were working at the issue of data costs and that it will eventually come down.
The Minister believes that if more people get connected to the internet, costs will eventually go down.
“If we work together to make sure that the internet is more affordable in the poorest segment of our society, I think it will help us a lot,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Telkom Chairperson Jabu Mabuza, who also believes data costs will come down if more people were connected.
In Africa, the Internet for All initiative has been launched in countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.