South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Communication has launched a community computer and internet access centre donated to Chief Bhekisizwe Nzimakwe by Mthinte Communications at the request of the Department of Communications. A pro-bono agreement, this is one of 123 community access centres that the company has distributed for USAASA.
According to Board Chairperson, Pumla Radebe, it was at Nqadu when launching a similar centre with Chief Sigcawu that the Deputy Minister of Communications requested the deployment of this centre. The centre comprises a room with computers that have internet access for people in the area to use. The number of computers varies between 21-31 depending on the community access centre.
“This centre in Kwanzimakwe comes as a donation from Mthinte Communications and we give thanks for it and for their dedication to uplifting communities such as these, and working to help the Department and USAASA realise its strategic goal of ensuring universal access to global platforms such as the World Wide Web or the internet as it is commonly called. It is a good start to a very big challenge,” Radebe said.
As Radebe notes that the challenge of closing the gap is enormous, she thanks the ICT industry for the commitment it has shown to her Agency’s process of redefining and articulating the access gap problem in the country.
She notes in her speech “We know the extent of the problem. We know what it will cost for Government to bring that to you and your children. We know what it is going to take to ensure that every man, woman and child whether living here in KwaNzimakwe, in Kalahari or in Durban can connect using technology and reduce what they spend travelling to get to the bank, to the clinic, registering for courses at University and so on.”
She goes on to indicate that very soon there will be a plan on the table to ensure that these communities are covered like any other; to ensure that service delivery is enabled through the use of communications technology.
“The problem has not been a financial one. It has been a planning one and we are ready to consult the public at large on a probable solution. Our preliminary ground work tells us that there is support for what were are doing and relief all around.”
USAASA will continue to work closely with the National Treasury, ICASA, and the ICT Review Committee in developing the ICT Master Plan in order to develop a Universal Service and Access Master Plan to broadband for under-serviced and remote rural areas where there are needy persons. That means a launch such as this KwaNzimakwe is a clear indication of support not just for USAASA’s work, but for the Government’s efforts as well.