City of Cape Town on road to broadband connectivity

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“It’s a long road. We [have] progressed but there’s still a long way to go. Our strategy is based on tree pillars and columns: we’re basically looking at how to reduce the cost of telecommunications for ourselves as the administration, how [to] use ICT to enable economic development, and then how do we make use of our infrastructure to help bridge the digital divide. That, in a nutshell, is what the strategy is all about,” Andre Stelzner, City of Cape Town’s director of information technology and communications, told CNBC Africa.

The physical rollout, according to Stelzner, was started just prior to the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Now, in the fourth year of the rollout plan, the broadband strategy plans to provide coverage to areas of limited infrastructure particularly in places such as Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain.

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“It’s the third leg of the strategy. We’ve firstly focused on connecting our own buildings and driving better connectivity to improve service delivery, and also to reduce the cost of telecommunications within the administration. That we’ve achieved,” Stelzner explained.

“Now, with the spare capacity, we want to tackle the next objective, being economic development, and through the spare capacity start getting licensed internet service providers to take advantage of this infrastructure layer to starts providing services and thereby hopefully reduce the total cost of telecommunications within Cape Town.”

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The eight licensed service providers include RSA Web, which Stelzner hopes will help attract more tech companies into Cape Town.

“Between tech companies and creating a silicone Cape, as it has been branded, [it’s] to also extend the services industry, which is so dependent on ICT. That’s where we see the growth of the local economy, and through having the international cable landing at Ysterfontein recently,” said Stelzner.

“With our own infrastructure rollout plan, we hope to provide connectivity not only locally and across areas that currently don’t have it, but also to the rest of the world.”