Liquid Telecom partners SITA in ECape broadband push

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Reshaad Sha, CEO of Liquid Telecom SA.
Reshaad Sha, CEO of Liquid Telecom SA.

Liquid Telecom SA, part of pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, has concluded an agreement with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to deliver broadband services to hospitals, schools, clinics and provincial offices in the Eastern Cape province.

The high-speed broadband services will enable the Eastern Cape provincial government to deliver services to its citizens, using technology to enhance its overall service delivery capabilities.

The partnership will connect 2 700 government facilities initially with 100Mbps, increasing in the majority of these sites to 1Gbps over the contracted period.

The deal comes at a time government's ambitious broadband project, SA Connect, is moving at a snail's pace.

SA Connect aims to deliver widespread broadband access to 90% of the country's population by 2020, and 100% by 2030.

In terms of phase one, SA Connect aims to connect all schools, health facilities, government offices, Thusong Centres and post offices, in eight rural district municipalities, to broadband services.

However, progress with the big broadband push has been limited and characterised by various uncoordinated initiatives.

Reshaad Sha, CEO of Liquid Telecom SA, says: "Having the opportunity to start connecting the least connected province in South Africa is an honour for us.

"For the first time, Liquid Telecom will be contributing directly to enhanced service delivery in the Eastern Cape province. The high-speed network services that we will deliver as part of this project will be a key enabler in the delivery of e-education, e-health and a plethora of e-government services through the facilities that will now be connected."

Ntutule Tshenye, acting CEO of SITA, says the provision of broadband connectivity is key to the modernisation of government in order to ensure improved service delivery to citizens.

"This connectivity will serve as a key enabler for the Eastern Cape government and will ensure a sound foundation exists which can be leveraged for its digital transformation journey, as well as ensure South Africa is able to benefit from the opportunities presented by the fourth industrial revolution."

Tshenye notes the partnership between SITA, Liquid Telecom and the Eastern Cape provincial government also aims to demonstrate it is possible to deploy pervasive high-speed broadband in a rural province so as to ensure the objectives of SA Connect are met.

According to Liquid Telecom, the partnership will enable network expansion to take place which, under normal circumstances, would not have been commercially feasible.

It points out that with the Eastern Cape provincial government as an anchor customer, high-speed broadband services can now be delivered to the province's designated points of access and presence.

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