Mangaung Metro Municipality citizens currently have access to free internet connectivity. Hoffman Square in the city centre is the first hub of free Wi-Fi in Bloemfontein. Mangaung Metro Municipality Executive Mayor, Thabo Manyoni, was speaking at the launch of the city’s first free Wi-Fi facility and highlighted that this project is the first of many to be rolled out in poverty-stricken communities.
Manyoni said this project will be expanded to other areas such as Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu, with particular focus on public school libraries. “We aim to improve municipal services and one way of doing that, is through the establishment of free internet connectivity. The project will also provide Mangaung citizens with resources to improve their livelihood. Each internet user will be provided with a maximum of 50 MB on a daily basis,” he said.
As part of the 2019 mobile broadband infrastructural plan of providing 80% of South Africa’s population with internet connectivity, Manyoni revealed to Voice that approximately R10 million had been spent on this project. Manyoni explained that the Mangaung Metro Municipality, together with the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), is expanding this project to other impoverished communities.
Mangaung resident, Maleshoane Mailane, who attended the launch, said she was happy that she would be able to access the internet free of charge when searching for employment opportunities. Kelebogile Daniels also added that this project would greatly benefit students who cannot afford data to have easier access when doing research for their assignments.
While some residents were excited about the city’s first free Wi-Fi, others pointed out certain shortcomings. Teboho Mbuke cited 50 MB as too little to go by on a daily basis. He pointed out it is a disadvantage when one needs to download large documents. Boniwe Sekudisa pointed out that issues faced by the youth exceed having minimal internet connection. She, however, hoped this project would be extended to other areas in different townships, so that citizens do not have to travel to the centre city to have free internet connectivity.
With the first free Wi-Fi network connectivity readily operational, Manyoni appealed to the youth to make use of this free internet connectivity for educational purposes. He urged residents to use it as a platform to access municipal services. – Katleho Morapela