Gauteng eyes ‘wall-to-wall’ connectivity
The Department of e-Government plans to accelerate rollout of its high-speed broadband network, the Gauteng Broadband Network (GBN), and provision of free WiFi to poor households in the province.
This is according to Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, Gauteng finance and e-government MEC, expanding on the provincial government’s key priorities announced during the State of the Province Address last month.
This isn’t the first time the department has emphasised broadband rollout as part of the province’s digital future, with the MEC last year saying theInternet remains the most critical component of digital transformation.
In light of its current plans, the e-government department says it will explore various options with ICT stakeholders and service providers to realise wall-to-wall connectivity throughout the province.
Although the GBN has been laden with issues, ranging from corruption to non-compliance allegations, e-government says it has managed to implement voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) via the network project.
According to the department, 90 Gauteng provincial government (GPG) sites have been VOIP-enabled, resulting in significant cost savings regarding telephony.
In addition, the department reveals it plans to enable a further 180 sites over the next five years.
“To ensure end-to-end connectivity, making access to broadband a reality, the department is committed to integrate existing local area networks (LAN) into the Gauteng Broadband Network.
“This requires the upgrade and replacement of poor and outdated LAN equipment. The department has upgraded the LAN at 16 hospitals during the current financial year and plans to ramp up LAN integration to ensure the majority of connected sites have adequate LAN.”
On the issue of upskilling youth, the e-government department says it will facilitate, together with higher education institutions, ICT skills development programmes for 622 000 youth over the next five years.
Furthermore, the department will facilitate ICT training for 100 000 GPG staff. To date, the department has facilitated training of 74 000 youth and staff.
At the launch of its Soweto-leg of its socio-economic development (SED) programme last year, the MEC called on ICT companies to step up efforts to upskill youths in the province.
The e-government department has been running the SED programme since 2016. Through the initiative, the department aims to provide opportunities to university graduates to participate in a working internship and for them to gain necessary skills to become certified workforce management solutions engineers.
The provincial government also committed to making all government services available on digital platforms to increase efficiency and improve public participation in government.
“To this end, the department has already identified all current services to be placed on the digital platform. There are currently 53 government [services] on the provincial digital platform.”