Broadband for Cape Town townships

Khayelitsha, Cape Town’s largest township, is about to become the latest district to avail of the massive broadband infrastructure project being undertaken by the city and provincial government.

Over the next seven to 10 years Cape Town is poised to spend some R1.3bn on the scheme which promises access to affordable broadband infrastructure, at a minimum network speed of 1,000 Mbps (megabits per second), for every town and village in the province by 2030.

During the current financial year broadband will be introduced to city-owned properties in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Ndabeni and the southern suburbs.

Authorities say that the improved broadband infrastructure will play a key role in driving economic growth and development. However the provision of accessible internet in townships has been met with calls to follow up with schemes to educate the local communities into how to utilise the technology.

Meanwhile South Africa’s Telkom – the largest integrated communications company on the continent – has requested access to part of the network, which could reduce the cost of broadband.

In August 2012, during former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s visit to Cape Town, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) signed an agreement for a R2.5m grant to fund research into the "prospective benefits" of providing wireless internet to residents of townships Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain.