By News Agency Staff

The Internet for All initiative will look at how South Africans can access the internet with affordable data prices, says Telecommunication and Postal Services Deputy Director General Tinyoko Ngobeni.

Addressing the Internet for All initiative in Soweto on Tuesday, Ngobeni said government was concerned about the high data prices.

“We will also be looking at the availability of smart devices, whilst we also still need to upgrade the infrastructure from 2G to 3G as well as LTE,” Ngobeni said.

The South African government, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the private sector and civil society have partnered to connect 22 million South Africans to the internet by 2019 through the Internet for All initiative

The Internet for All initiative seeks to address the following four barriers to internet inclusion, namely infrastructure gaps, limited affordability of data and gadgets, poor digital skills and low confidence in the use of the internet, as well as the lack of relevant digital content.

Ngobeni said the initiative will also look at how government services can be made available online.

Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele said more than 22 million people in South Africa do not use the internet at all and some studies show that 62% of the rural population lacks 3G coverage.

“Let us not allow the internet to be another form of discrimination or increase the digital divide among our citizens.

“Our youth are hungry for skills, access to information and opportunities to improve their lives. Let’s empower our youths to be the champions of this programme,” Minister Cwele said.

He was expected to participate in the establishment of the South African Internet for All Working Groups.

The working groups include infrastructure and connectivity; affordability and availability; local content, as well as skills training and awareness.

The working groups are coordinated by the Government and include the WEF, large and medium size global and local Information and communication technology (ICT) companies and civil society.

The groups are a collaborative platform that will set targets, monitor progress and revise the targets when necessary. – SAnews.gov.za

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