The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will help fund a fibre rollout feasibility study aimed at expanding reliable and affordable Internet access and digital services to underserved populations living outside of South Africa’s major urban centres.
It will contribute $901,188 (around R12.3 million) to the study, which is expected to start within months and be concluded a year after commencement.
Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), a South African wholesale open-access fibre infrastructure and connectivity provider, will carry out the study.
The study will evaluate the technical and economic viability of expanding DFA’s fibre network into peri-urban and rural areas in 20 districts across the country.
In addition, it will model sustainable business cases and scenarios for delivering connectivity infrastructure to customers in these markets.
USTDA acting director Enoh T. Ebong said the US had high-quality and innovative solutions to share with South Africa in the information and communications technology sector in particular.
“Our partnership with DFA reflects USTDA’s commitment to bridging South Africa’s digital divide in partnership with American industry.”
DFA Chief Strategy, M&A and Innovation Officer Vino Govender said the study would help shape how Internet access and digital infrastructure can be expanded to the less-connected.
“We are taking a holistic approach. By aggregating demand for digital services using shared infrastructure, we believe we can create a business case for connecting customers in underserved areas,” Govender said.
The fibre feasibility project will support Access Africa, USTDA’s initiative to support the development of inclusive, secure, and sustainable ICT across Africa, as well as the US Government’s Prosper Africa initiative to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa.
Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission in South Africa, Todd Haskell, said the US government was committed to building a stronger relationship with the country,
“We recognize the transformative impact that digital connectivity can have on the South African people, which is why we are fully supportive of this initiative,” Haskell said.
He added investing in secure and reliable connectivity would strengthen the resiliency of South Africa’s economy.