Communities in Inanda in Durban will be able to secure Internet access through free WIFI hotspots. This is part of a plan to roll out cost-effective broadband infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal.

The JL Dube Broadband project, launched in the province recently, was also introduced to pupils at Ohlange High school to honour former President Nelson Mandela.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the digital divide in many countries.

Technical experts ran short tutorials demonstrating the advantages of technology in the classroom in a bid to promote digital literacy.

“It’s going to be quite good because of some matric learners we don’t have data to apply for varsity and for assignments too. We also need data so it’s a good thing because we don’t have to buy data,” says an excited Ntokozo Chili, who is a learner at the school.

Another learner Linda Shange says they weren’t familiar with assembling robotics until now.

“Today we learned about assembling robotics, something that we weren’t familiar with. We see a future in it because the MEC told us that we don’t even have to have a higher qualification in order to have a stable career.”

Studies have shown that almost half of KZN’s population access the internet via their cellular phones and only a small percentage have internet at home.

The provincial Department of Economic Development, which is partnering with the Moses Kotane Institute, is planning to set up live hotspots in major centres of the province. The aim is to also create jobs by setting up small businesses as Internet service providers.

Business owner Mbulelo Hlobo explained the intention behind the project.

“Our intention is to establish a number of ISPs that will be running on the ground selling data and airtime so that we get our people connected at lower data cost. Secondly, we’re targeting to have at least a minimum of 50 SMMEs running around selling data and then in that we’ll be able to create lot of ISPs as we move on.”

Government says the acquisition of digital skills is important for socio-economic development in the province. They want to ultimately connect more than 20 000 hotspots in five years.