City Fast-Tracking Digital Access, Says Mayor Tau
The City of Johannesburg was on the verge of concluding a settlement agreement that would unlock digital access, Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau announced during his State of the City Address today.
Mayor Tau said of the 4,8 million people who lived in Johannesburg, over 50% had no regular access to the internet.
He said digital access was becoming as much an equity issue as access to water and electricity.
"The broadband network we as a City have developed is a public asset. It allows us to reindustrialise in a way that builds Johannesburg as a city able to compete and lead in both the old industries that are rapidly digitising and in the new weightless economy of digital services," Mayor Tau said.
He said the City was in the process of "blanketing" Braamfontein with Wi-Fi that provided high-speed broadband access, parts of which were now live.
"This goes beyond hotspot access at specific buildings and demonstrates how public Wi-Fi can work across a wide area. In this mecca of youthful activity, the Wi-Fi mesh will become a showcase for how subsidised access to the internet means access to opportunity and education," he said.
The Mayor also announced that the City's Library and Information Services Division was offering open online courses to create opportunities for online university education and enable more and more people to move up the higher education ladder.
This comes against the background that, according to Census 2011, only 13.2% of Johannesburg residents across all age groups have a post-high school education.
"The Massive Open Online Varsity, or MOOV, will provide the kind of learning gateway that is making all the difference across Africa," the Mayor said.
About 40 young people are already on MOOV.
The Mayor said the programme would soon be expanded to connect hundreds of students throughout the city with recognised online courses offered by prestigious institutions such as Wharton Business School, Rice University, the University of Adelaide and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"This complements our new range of programmes that directly support the new digital economy," he said.