Following Helen Zille's recent announcement to put the Western Cape ahead of the rest of the country, in terms of planning a stronger telecommunications infrastructure, it is said that the province will spend up to R4bn on network connectivity over the next two years. This aims to ensure that every Capetonian has access to cheap and fast broadband services.
South Korea has the world's fastest internet connectivity services. The country also has the highest number of DSL connections per head, and offers the world's cheapest broadband. This has had a positive impact on culture and lifestyle, enabling people to stay connected. Entrepreneurs are able to capitalize on widespread internet access by starting online companies. On the other hand, there are pit falls such as the government's plan to remove anonymity in the South Korean environment and the occasional reports of internet addiction. The benefits, however, still far outweigh the costs.
"We could have an African version of South Korea sooner than expected", states Information and Communication Technologies Research Analyst Iyembi Nkanza,"The City of Johannesburg, as well as municipalities in Kwazulu Natal and Knysna, are all planning further fiber rollouts".
The benefits and rationale behind such ambitious plans are clear; such an achievement would put Cape Town on the proverbial map, in terms of internet connectivity in Africa and perhaps the world, Nkanza said.
Frost & Sullivan believes the Western Cape would be a shining example of what is possible for all cities in Africa, and a blueprint of how to achieve it. Though it is not difficult to criticize the plans as "over ambitious", the municipality overstepping into the telecoms arena may be a political chess move. However, the municipality also has a mandate to the people of Cape Town.
Perhaps all municipalities should throw caution to the wind and aim to have bigger plans. Cape Town may not be in a position to deliver, as promised by 2014, but the efforts will make a big difference to the lives of many Cape Town residents. Frost & Sullivan concludes that if a city in Africa were to take on such an ambitious plan, it would have to be Cape Town.
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