The City of Johannesburg is taking a giant leap over the digital divide.
Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau today announced the rollout of free internet and Wi-Fi access in libraries across the city - a digital game-changer - at the Sandton Public Library.
“Internationally, we are in a digital race. However, as a City and a country we are not running nearly fast enough. Through this programme we are lacing up our digital running shoes and providing free technology and internet access for all, essentially providing a mechanism to accelerate local social and economic growth,” said Mayor Tau.
With the support of the Library and Information Technology Services, the City’s Library and Information Services will roll out the e-World programme over the next 18 months that will see the enabling of free internet and Wi-Fi access in public libraries.
Using the e-World platform, the e-Learning Project will provide students and learners with the opportunity to access to virtual learning material as well as massive open online courses. Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Corporate and Shared Services Councillor Mally Mokoena said the City had made a solid commitment to bridging the digital divide by focusing on e-learning as reflected in the City’s Smart Citizen Priority.
"Though the target audience is all citizens of the city, attention has been placed on the youth and school-going children. By accessing e-learning technology, learners are able to remove a bulk of the material costs, enjoy flexible learning times and locations as well as enjoy enhanced content such as audio and video,” MMC Mokoena said.
At present, e-World accessibility is available at the Jabavu, Noordgesig, Orange Farm, River Park, Diepsloot and Sandton libraries, with another 38 libraries to be added by June 30.
MMC Mokoena said the rollout of e-World and the e-learning initiative would improve the “techno-literacy skills of communities, resulting in empowerment through the provision of access to online information resources by all sectors of the community, enabling ordinary people to participate in the global knowledge economy.”
Accessibility through e-World will also enhance learning by providing:
- Additional learning opportunities;
- Access to e-Government documents;
- Access to e-Business opportunities and initiatives;
- Access to computers and related equipment to all community members;
- A platform for all citizens to effectively communicate and engage with the City through its various communication platforms.
MMC for Community Development Councillor Chris Vondo said in a bid to further accelerate the City’s Smart City and Smart Citizen programme, 40 interns would undergo intensive information technology and entrepreneurial training.
The programme will be run in partnership with the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller. A further 3 000 digital ambassadors from micro enterprises would be trained to provide literacy training to communities as required.
MMC Vondo thanked e-World partners Think Ahead, Dimension Data and EOH for making the rollout of this initiative possible.
He said the programme rollout was significant because it was an important aspect of human and social development designed to unlock true human potential. The launch coincided with National Library Week, which this year was held run under the theme “Connect @ your Library.”