Free Wi-Fi changes life in Ekurhuleni

 A young entrepreneur, who previously had to pay to access the internet, is now able to do research for his company from the free Wi-Fi that is provided by Ekurhuleni Municipality.

Calvin Mathebula, a resident of Tsakane, has a company that designs t-shirts and caps. He said the free Wi-Fi has been a great help as he has just started his business and doesn’t have much capital.

“I use the free Wi-Fi in the clinic to do research for my company and also to get tips on how to run a business,” Mathebula said.

As part of enabling citizens to participate in the digital society in an affordable manner, government is working with the metros of Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Nelson Mandela Bay, Mangaung, Cape Town and Johannesburg to roll out free WiFi. R40 million has been allocated for the rollout.

On Thursday, the Deputy Minister for Telecommunications and Postal Services Hlengiwe Mkhize officially opened Wi-Fi hotspots at a library and clinic in Tsakani as part of the National Imbizo Focus Week.

She encouraged residents to make use of the free Wi-Fi to empower themselves and told them of the benefits of using Wi-Fi. Deputy Minister Mkhize urged the youth to visit the libraries regularly as they are the cornerstone of education.

Last year in November, Ekurhuleni Municipality launched its first Wi-Fi hotspot in Kathlegong.

“To date, we have 700 000 people who are using free Wi-Fi… We hope to do more to get community members to use this and maximise on the investment,” said Lydia Ntlhophi, who works in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Business Relations Unit in Ekurhuleni Municipality.

Currently, the municipality has 235 sites where people can access Wi-Fi. Nthlophi said the response from the public has been positive, as learners who previously needed to buy data to apply at universities online, can now do their applications at the local library. University students are also benefiting as they can do their research for assignments without having to travel to the institutions, which saves them money.

“By providing free Wi-Fi, we are also allowing the [youth] to play in the economic space. We are trying to bridge the digital gap,” Nthlophi said.

Technology to improve health services

The municipality has completed its first module for e-Health services, which focuses on the patient registration model.

Nthlophi said e-Health services will allow for better planning, as the system will be able to reflect how many patients have follow-up appointments and the clinic will be able to have adequate staff to attend to patients.

Some of the benefits of the e-Health services is that patients no longer need to remember their file numbers because the clinics have the information online.

“We also want to be able to send them SMSs to remind them of their appointments,” Nthlophi said. – SAnews.gov.za

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