Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele has said that reliable and affordable Internet connectivity is critical to grow the South African economy and to combat poverty, unemployment, and inequality.
Speaking at the Wi-Fi Forum of South Africa conference, Cwele said South Africa’s inability to close the digital divide will do far more harm than the Apartheid system.
“Access to the Internet is the single most powerful equaliser we have to bridge the devastating effects of our Apartheid past, which created a gap between the rich and the poor,” said Cwele.
The minister said South Africa currently has a 49% Internet penetration rate, and only 17% high-speed broadband penetration.
“There is a lot of work before us to ensure that by 2030 we have achieved a 100% penetration rate for broadband and all South Africans are connected,” he said.
He added that Wi-Fi technology will play an essential role in achieving universal access to ICTs.
“Low-cost Wi-Fi installations could mean the difference between no ICT access of any kind and an affordable service,” he said.
Cwele urged South Africa as a whole to ensure that affordable and reliable access to the Internet is not an “exclusive privilege”, but a reality for all South Africans.