South Africa’s Gauteng provincial government has allocated ZAR510 million (US$47.8 million) for the immediate rollout of the Gauteng Broadband Network (GBN), highlighting the job creation potential of the project.
Presenting the provincial budget for 2014-2015 for Gauteng, member of the executive committee (MEC) for finance Mandla Nkomfe said government has “finalised” the GBN and construction is scheduled to begin on April 1.
The successful bidder will be asked to design, build and operate the network, which is to bring high speed broadband to provincial government buildings, community service centres, certain economic zones and 20 priority townships.
Nkomfe said the project holds immense potential for the province to move towards a range of e-government schemes, as well as being key to job creation.
“These faster speeds are projected to allow the provincial government to implement its smart provincial initiatives, and thus facilitate the realisation of telemedicine, rich e-learning content, and similar services,” said Nkomfe.
“The job creation prospects of this initiative are immense, as the GBN is expected to create new job opportunities for small businesses in network building activities, and in network support and management services.”
The funding is to cover two years, with the first stage of construction of the network expected to take 18 months. However, Nkomfe said the GBN must be self-funding by the third year, and ownership should have been transferred to the province.
Nkomfe said the GBN would bring speeds of at least 1Gbps to government buildings, which he said is 10 times faster than the current network.
Other than the GBN, the provincial budget makes note of the need to upgrade ICT infrastructure in schools, “to improve the digital literacy of all school leavers and achieve the goals of the overarching ICT strategy which is to improve curriculum delivery in schools; school management and teacher capacity”.
Nkomfe said, as announced in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, the “e-Learning Solution” is under implementation across the province.
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