Johannesburg’s mayor, Parks Tau says he intends to roll-out 1,000 WiFi hotspots throughout the city before the end of the Mayoral term, in 2016.
Speaking on the occasion of the state of the city address in Soweto on Monday, Tau said that 2014 “will see the completion of the roll out of our broadband network” at a cost of R1 billion.
“WiFi has gone live from today, right here, as we speak, in the Orlando Communal Hall and at the following nine Rea Vaya stations: Orlando Stadium and Police Station, Soccer City, Noordgesig, Joburg Theatre, Park Station, Art Gallery, Carlton Centre and Fashion Square.”
The mayor said that the broadband network will significantly increase access through libraries to the internet including open online courses. 35 libraries will be connected by June and all 85 libraries will have free internet access by the end of 2014.
“We will train at least 1,000 students a year in the City’s ICT operations who will then work within communities to introduce the latest technology and ensure that the benefits of our broadband network are experienced by residents,” Tau said.
He said that the city is working on a partnership with the University of the Witwatersrand in respect of the Tshimologong Precincts in Braamfontein, focusing on IT innovation and SMME incubation. “Together with our partners we will soon launch our own Joburg Hackathon,” he said.
Smart City at work.
Tau said that the city is financially in the best shape yet with a net surplus of R3.4 billion at the end June 2013. “We continued the upward trend of increasing, the City’s total assets to R60.1 billion up from R56.37 billion in 2011/12. We concluded the year with a progressive increase in cash and cash equivalents of R5.4 billion.”
The mayor said that capital investment in the city continues to rise significantly. “At the beginning of our term we started with a capital budget of R3.9 billion. Currently it stands at R7.6 billion and is projected to grow to R10.9 billion in the next financial year,” he said.
“We will continue to support the development of skills, knowledge and innovation, in partnership with our local tertiary education institutions and technology centres to develop a new cadre of entrepreneurs,” Tau said.
He said that in planning for the future, the city has defined specific sectors where it wants to further develop the economy. “The future focus will be in the fields of finance, technology, resource beneficiation such as in the platinum group metals as well as within the green and blue economies.”