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South African government plans to extend Wi-Fi connectivity to 5.5 million households in rural and township regions over the course of the next three to four years. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

During a media briefing held in Pretoria, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele, disclosed the government's intention to facilitate internet access for 1.5 million households in rural and township areas by the year's end through Wi-Fi hotspots 

Gungubele further outlined government plans to extend Wi-Fi connectivity to 5.5 million households in rural and township regions over the course of the next three to four years.

“We are dedicated to bridging the digital divide by providing Wi-Fi access to communities and ensuring universal access to the internet. This year, we have connected over 740 000 households to the internet, enabled by the installation of 4 250 Wi-Fi hotspots.

“This work involved the participation of 76 Internet Service Providers, which are Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), and resulted in 4 500 direct jobs, and many more indirect jobs and opportunities downstream,” commented Gungubele.

He said government has made strides in reducing the cost of data.

“Simply put, where our flagship programme, SA Connect, visits, villages are left connected to the internet at an incredibly affordable rate of R5 a day per 1 Gig, and as little as R250 a month on an unlimited package.

“Beyond this infrastructure investment in communities at large, we have also focused our attention on enabling learners in rural schools to be connected to the internet and are equipped with skills to ready them for the future through State Information Technology Agency (SITA) Cyber Labs – a privilege previously reserved for urban schools.

“We have so far launched these smart schools in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, the North West and Northern Cape provinces, with more yet to be established in other parts of the country. In addition to the computer laboratory and equipment that comes with it, learners receive skills training in robotics, coding and digital skills,” Gungubele said.

National Digital skills programme

To equip young individuals for the digital revolution and the evolving digital job market, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies recently introduced the National Digital Skills Forum (DSF). This initiative serves as a platform for consolidating expertise, financial resources, institutional backing, and monitoring mechanisms for the National Digital Skills Programme.

Furthermore, the DSF will offer direction and oversight regarding the execution of the National Digital Skills Programme.

“[This] is a ‘Digital Skills Massification Drive’ that empowers youth in particular and offers them an opportunity to become Digital Skills ambassadors to train their communities in digital skills.

“The programme has been successfully rolled out in the North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Free State provinces. It is currently underway in the Eastern Cape province and is intended to be rolled out to all provinces in South Africa. To date, over 20 000 citizens in these provinces have been successfully trained by ambassadors on basic digital literacy concepts,” the Minister said.

Digitisation of government services

Through the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), the department has developed a National e-Government Portal (, with 92 digitised government services.

This past year, the digitised services has attracted the utilization of over 899 394 logins, with over 1.4 million registered users.

“In the 2024/25 Financial Year, SITA will ensure 98% core network availability for 7 570 connected government sites cutting across national and provincial departments.

“Complementing the SA Connect programme, SITA will launch a National Broadband Project worth at least R6 billion (US$332,158.94), that will be awarded per region and ensure that government reduces the cost and duplication of connectivity infrastructure from municipalities up to national government level.

“This project will also ensure that designated groups such as enterprises owned by women and youth are empowered with at least forty percent (40%) value of this project, whilst creating opportunities for innovative locally developed solutions to find traction in our market,” the Minister said.

Work has begun to improve key value chains and processes of SITA towards meeting efficiency expectations in building a resilient modern digital environment for an evolving South Africa.

“To this end, a special directed intervention in the form of, the SITA Ministerial Task Team to fast-track procurement backlogs has commenced work. SITA is in the process of meeting all clusters and provinces to find resolutions to all their urgent Information and communications technology (ICT) challenges,” he said. –

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