A CATHCART woman’s letter to the Daily Dispatch, (‘Internet access key’, August 16), on the need to ensure accessible internet, has served to encourage a legislature question by the DA to Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle.
Nomahlubi Mabizela wrote that affordable digital access should be a key delivery point for municipalities. This was, she indicated, due to the fact that it would translate into various positives, including enhancing education, free access to online applications to institutions of higher learning, self-teaching and life-long learning and access to job opportunities.
Mabizela indicated that as a Cathcart resident, “a small community that is battling economically and otherwise, and which falls under the Amahlathi Municipality, there was no public internet access outlet in town.
“However, the department of sport, recreation, arts and culture has equipped public libraries with some desktop computers and Wi-Fi connection that is still “inaccessible” to the intended users.
The cost of accessing internet in the library is R8.60 for 15 minutes and R35 an hour, whereas, at all the public internet outlets in Komani, the charge is R10 an hour.
She said it was cheaper to travel to Komani to access the internet than trying to do so in Cathcart.
DA leader in the Eastern Cape provincial legislature Bobby Stevenson said in a statement on Wednesday, in which he referred to Mabizela’s letter in the Daily Dispatch, that the provincial government needed to take urgent measures to bridge the digital divide.
A clear plan on the roll-out of free broadband access in the province was needed to allow access to everyone living in urban or rural areas.
The DA indicated that for every increased 10% of a population that has access to the internet, the economy grows by 1.3%.
He said a DA-investigation had confirmed that it did indeed, as stated by Mabizela, cost R8.60 for 15 minutes or R35 an hour to use the internet at the Cathcart library, a service which the party felt should be provided free by the provincial government.
In the Western Cape, the DA would aim to have free Wi-Fi hotspots in all wards across the province in the next three years. – Rep reporter