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Thursday Mar 03, 2016

Free wi-fi rolled out in Gugulethu

By the end of the month 32 areas in the Western Cape will have free wi-fi as part of a programme run by the national Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services.

Yesterday, the department's deputy minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize, visited four sites in Gugulethu where wi-fi is being rolled out.

Mkhize had a walkabout from the Ilitha Labantu Community Centre, the Gugulethu Sports Complex, Luzuko Primary School and the College of Cape Town's Gugulethu College where the wi-fi is being installed.

The other areas in the province that will also benefit from the R5 million free wi-fi initiative are Brackenfell, Crossroads, Masiphumelele, Brooklyn and the Mitchells Plain Town Centre.

Mkhize said the free wi-fi access project is part of the South Africa Connect Policy broadband roll-out, which they have been working on since 2014. "We started with rural areas because in bigger cities private sectors already have the capacity to connect people to wi-fi," said Mkhize.

cTowards the end of the year we decided to support municipalities serving big townships and assist them with our own budget in addition to theirs," said Mkhize.

Mkhize said they are also showing people how smartphone apps can be used to make lives easier.

She said ways in which technology like free wi-fi access can improve people's lives is in sectors like transport, health and education.

"People can have applications on their phones to inform them on bus and flight times. An important application people should have on their phones is one that keeps record of their health history," said Mkhize.

The department is also teaching older people how to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, which Mkhize told older people are not just apps for their children and grandchildren.

The founder of Gugulethu NGO Ilitha Labantu, Mandisa Monakali, emphasised the importance of having free wifi, saying it could even help abused women get help.

"It is very important for our community to have access to free wi-fi, particularly in an environment affected by violence against women. If people know of someone being abused, they will be able to communicate to other people.

"People will even be able to access organisations like us without paying. In the past we had no structures that offered free wi-fi.

"For us this is one of the best things that has happened to the people of Gugulethu," said Monakali.

Cape Times


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