Internet connectivity improves

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele, says that internet connectivity and penetration has improved greatly.

According to the Minister, internet connectivity and penetration has improved from a mere 21.1% in 2011 to a staggering 79% in 2022, elevating citizens in a rapidly changing world that is driven by digital technologies.

The improvement is due to work being done through the SA Connect broadband connectivity project, which is dedicated to bridging the digital divide by providing Wi-Fi access to communities and ensuring universal access to the internet.

Phase 2 of the SA Connect project was launched by government last year with the aim to provide core and access network infrastructure to enable broadband connectivity to community Wi-Fi hotspots that will connect households.

Addressing a joint debate on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Tuesday, the Minister said government will continue to connect rural and township areas with a target of 5.5 million households enabled by WIFI hotspots in the next three to four years.

In addition, government will connect 1.5 million households enabled by WIFI hotspots by December 2024 and 747 000 households enabled by 4 250 WIFI hotspots by the end of this financial year.

“We can report that to date, a coverage of 361 000 households which has been enabled by 2 502 WIFI hotspots has been achieved. The work has been done and will continue being done. It will involve 76 internet service providers, which are small medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). This will result in 4 500 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs and opportunities downstream,” Gungubele said.


With government having freed spectrum of above 700MHz for use by mobile operators, that spectrum will connect public institutions and deploy 4G and 5G technology throughout the country.

The availability of spectrum paves the way for affordable, high-speed internet access for all.

“Working with the private sector thus far, all eight metros have been connected to fibre, and we are expanding to more towns. We have as part of our implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), embarked on several digital infrastructure projects to ensure transformation through access in a changing world,” the Minister said.

He said Cabinet approved the Next Generation Spectrum Policy for economic development on 25 November 2023.

The policy intends to support the spectrum allocation and licensing for fixed mobile; broadcasting; aeronautical and marine; research and development; community access, and other relevant industries.

The policy also seeks to promote equity and fair allocation to contribute towards the transformation of the sector and accessibility of digital connectivity even in outlying parts of the country.

The purpose of the policy is to address gaps and limitations that were identified in the 2016 National Information and Communications Technology White Paper and prepares for the amendment of relevant sections of the Electronic Communications Act, 2005 (Act 36 of 2005), which include:

  • unclear roles and responsibilities between Minister and the authority (ICASA) which contributed to inefficiencies
  • gaps in the spectrum management regime
  • an exclusive spectrum regime that benefit a few and bigger players; and
  • inefficiencies towards extending broadband access to rural, remote, and underserved areas.

“Working with our mobile operators, we will connect over 21 878 public basic education institutions, health centres and clinics, public libraries, and offices/ residences of traditional leaders to the internet, over the next three years.

“4G connection is expanding to township and rural areas under the democracy ka[meaning of] Tata Rolihlahla Mandela. Information and communications technology (ICT) is a great equaliser. Everyone in South Africa must and will access modern digital technologies.

“A digitally disconnected South Africa automatically removes itself from participating in the global community of the future. The social and economic impact of which will be catastrophic,” the Minister said. –