City of Johannesburg finance head Geoff Makhubo has announced the allocation of millions of rand towards technology investment and the development of a “smart city”.
Makhubo said a R1,2bn operating budget and a R1,5bn capital budget have been allocated for the 2015/2016 financial year, with the key focus areas being software and ICT infrastructure modernisation; renewal of computer hardware city wide; and Wi-Fi hotspots.
A “smart city” initiative is one of the 10 priority programmes identified by the city.
Makhubo says economic activity will be supported by providing technology and connectivity to entrepreneurs and businesses.
“The smart city initiatives will bridge the digital divide by providing basic levels of access to the Internet across the city,” he said in his budget speech, delivered on Tuesday. “In today’s world, universal access to communications is becoming as vital as access to water and electricity services.”
Other flagship programmes the city is embarking on include Digital Ambassadors and Broadband Base Stations. The first will task 3 000 youth with providing digital literacy training to those using the city’s ever-increasing number of Wi-Fi hotspots.
“As we prepare to celebrate youth month, we are establishing a dedicated youth directorate that will focus on youth empowerment programmes and implement initiatives such as Vulindlel’ eJozi and Digital Ambassadors, using the [email protected] model. This will be rolled out without any delay,” said Makhubo.
[email protected] supports community level cooperatives and enterprises by contracting the city’s service delivery programmes to entry-level workers.
Last year, Johannesburg’s City Power announced it would work with MTN to turn its light poles into base stations for providing broadband connectivity across the city.
Earlier this year, the city announced its COJEDI (City of Johannesburg Educating Digital Interns) programme that will seek to train a thousand youngsters in courses such as network engineering, website design and development, and fibre optics.
Mayor Parks Tau said it was the “foundation phase of developing a smart city”.
He said the programme would go a long way in improving IT skills and expertise and provides an opportunity for some of our brightest minds to learn the skills they need.
The city has an annual budget of more than R50bn. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media