PORT ELIZABETH – Citizens living in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro municipality will have access to free wi-fi connectivity, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele said on Friday.

Addressing an audience at the launch of the R6-million Nelson Mandela Bay Metro municipality wi-fi rollout, Cwele said “ordinary citizens of the metro will have access to a fast and reliable internet connection on their mobile devices”.

The launch, Cwele said, “affirms our commitment as government to the National Development Plan’s of a robust information society and knowledge economy that is both inclusive and prosperous”.

He said access to the internet had “become an essential resource in today’s modern economy that none of us can afford to live without”.

Wi-fi would be rolled out across six areas in the municipality as part of the first phase of the project. Cwele said the bigger vision was to “connect all government institutions in the eight districts to broadband”.

Phase two of the project would “connect all the government institutions in the country”.

People who connected to the free public wi-fi facilities would each be allocated 100mb a day on each device, and they could connect at a speed of 10mb per second.

“These speeds are consistent with those benchmarked by our broadband policy, South Africa Connect,” added Cwele.

Access to wi-fi connectivity, he said, would benefit pupils  and help schools move towards “paperless classrooms”.

Unemployment, Cwele highlighted, was a “real and present challenge for your young people, and the struggle becomes even more depressing when money is required to seek employment as one must buy newspapers where adverts are placed, cater for printing costs to distribute CVs and even pay for transport to interviews when resources are scarce.

“Access to the internet through the free public wi-fi we have provided will cut some of these costs and make it easier for the unemployed to look for work.”

– Africa News Agency