Date: 10 March 2018 By: Andries van Zyl
The Limpopo provincial government, through Limpopo Connexion SOC Ltd, has appointed Altron’s Altech Radio Holdings (ARH) to establish an affordable, secure, open-access broadband network across the province, in line with the National Broadband Policy: SA Connect.
According to a media statement issued by Altron, phase one of the R585-million project will see ICT connectivity provided to government departments, municipalities, businesses and households across the province over a three-year period. Additional services to be provided include a Network Operation Control Centre and Data Centre.
“ARH’s appointment follows similar broadband roll-outs in Gauteng, which saw the successful implementation of the Gauteng Broadband Network incorporating 1600km of high-speed fibre optics. This network connected in excess of 400 buildings, 45 community service centres (Thusong Centres), 20 identified priority townships, nine Economic Development Zones, six urban renewal nodes and several hundred schools under a build-and-transfer deal. In addition, ARH is currently in a joint partnership to design, deploy, maintain, and operate a citywide backbone broadband network for the City of Tshwane,” reads the statement.
“It is a priority of government’s National Development Plan to connect all South Africans to broadband infrastructure. Broadband is an economic enabler, and the South African government has identified the need to invest in information communication technologies, including broadband infrastructure, to support economic growth, development and social cohesion,” said Brett Nash, managing director of ARH. “As a result of this and other public broadband networks, public services, health and educational information products will become accessible to all,” he added.
According to Altron, a 2017 report by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa on the state of the country’s ICT sector showed that in 2015, only 53.5% of South African households had one member who had access to the Internet, either at home, their workplace, place of study or an Internet café.
This is set to change. Acting CEO of Limpopo Connexion Mr Baldwin Ramasobane said the Limpopo government aimed to empower community members to participate in an inclusive information society and mainstream economy. “The Limpopo broadband network will reduce the cost of doing business for government, industry and civil society and is a prerequisite for effective e-service implementation in the province,” said Ramasobane.
“The broadband project is one of the technology developments in the province that is ushering in the province’s knowledge economy industry to help modernise the provincial economy and create employment opportunities. Limpopo Connexion is contributing to bridging the digital divide and reducing poverty through implementation of ICT, as these types of developments improve service delivery by government departments. We are pursuing innovative and people-centric investments and assisting with employment creation, promoting economic development, and helping to create new technology businesses that develop key clusters through knowledge creation, transfer and exploitation. The project will further assist the province in participating in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and emergent disruptive technologies by developing skills for the economy, and incubation programmes through the planned science and technology park,” said Ramasobane.
Nash concludes the press release by stating: “Broadband telecommunications infrastructure is viewed as a 21st century basic essential utility and should be open to community members. ARH hopes to play an important role in transforming Limpopo into a knowledge economy and information society province.”
Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.