After the National Infrastructure Plan gazetted the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) on Tuesday, August 10, planned developments for the next three years are set to focus on a high-speed internet voyage for South Africans.
Our government expresses a want to have high-speed internet in every community by 2023-2024, with the potential of free data, ‘internet’ on the cards for citizens in need.
According to DPWI Minister Patricia De Lille, infrastructure development is critical to attaining South Africa’s long-term economic and social goals, and communications are a pivotal stake in our development.
“Communications are the lifeblood of a market economy, and digital communications are increasingly central to that,” the NIP 2050 expresses.
According to The South African, “the government feels the benefits of creating a fully digital society outweighs the cost of implementation.”
Are they setting goals that can actually be achieved?
The NIP 2050 builds the foundations for achieving the National Development Plan vision, which focuses on different forms of internet access in this instance.
In terms of fibre connections, most people in our country who have access to this tend to be in urban areas.
“Cellular internet is even more prevalent across the country,” the NIP 2050 document notes. “By 2019, 93% of the population were covered with 4G/LTE, a dramatic improvement from 53% in 2015,” said the government. Now, urban areas are fully covered by 4G/LTE and most of the provinces have rural coverage of more than 80%.”
But digital access is still poor. Sure, availability is fantastic, but it is an option. Essentially, the price for digital access in our country is still pain-stricken on the wallet of many.
The NIP 2050 claims these digital communications infrastructure goals are achievable through private-public cooperation. So, it seems like the government thinks that the goal can be achieved.
The IAB SA expressed a while ago that “all South Africans, especially vulnerable groups and those without access to mobile phones, have the right to access information online, from government services, employment opportunities or online education resources.”
Chris Borain, the chairperson of the IAB SA, said once of the IAB SA that, “We believe in fostering digital equality among all citizens. While Icasa is taking great strides to address the high cost of data, a basic level of free Internet access is a separate issue that requires as much attention.”
The initiative is egging that South Africans should have free basic access to high-speed internet, noting that it may be achievable through private and public team-ups, and pinning that for those who cannot afford it, free internet may be a possibility.
Whether the process rollout happens smoothly or on time, however, will be a matter of observance.