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SA’s 5G-ready smart city in the works, says Ramaphosa

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 13 Feb 2020
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

A new South African city driven solely by smart technologies is taking shape in Lanseria, Gauteng, said president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) before a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces this evening, after lengthy disruptions from the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Referencing his previous SONA, the president reiterated his dream of a smart South African city.

This city, which he referred to as a truly post-Apartheid city, will have 350 000 to half-a-million people who will call it home in the next decade, he said. 

“This process is being led by the investment and infrastructure office in the Presidency alongside the provincial governments of Gauteng and North West, working together with the cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Madibeng.”

He added: “This is a real city that is rising from the ground and going up...we have put together an innovative process that will fund the electricity, water, digital infrastructure and roads that will be the foundation of this new city.

“It will not only be smart and 5G-ready, but will be a leading benchmark for green infrastructure, both continentally and internationally.”

Turning to education, Ramaphosa said the process to provide tablet devices to every school child, over the next six years, is under way.

Last year, the president indicated the country's history demands improvement to education in order to develop the skills that will be needed now and into the future.

“This year, we will be introducing coding and robotics in grades R to three in 200 schools, with the plan to introduce this on a more universal basis in 2022,” he said.

Furthermore, government has decided to establish a university of science and innovation in the City of Ekurhuleni, Ramaphosa told the nation. “Ekurhuleni is the only metro in our country that does not have a university; they will have their own university now.

“This will enable young people in Ekurhuleni to be trained in high-impact and cutting-edge technological innovation for current and future industries.”

Digital economy

Ramaphosa also noted competition authorities are working towards a resolution with the large mobile network operators to secure “deep cuts” to data prices across prepaid monthly bundles.

Additional discounts targeted at low-income households, free daily allocation of data and free access to educational and other public investment Web sites is also going to happen, he said.

“This is an important step to improve lives, bring people into the digital economy and stimulate online businesses. The digital economy will increasingly become a very important driver of growth and creator of employment.

“An important condition for the success of our digital economy is the availability of high-demand spectrum to expand broadband access and reliability.”