The Department of Communication (DoC) hopes that 100% of South Africans will have access to broadband connectivity as soon as 2020 – even though just 12% are able to use the technology today.

“South Africa is at only 12% penetration and coverage at the moment,” says deputy minister Obed Bapela. “There is a need to engineer opportunities in this area.”

Acknowledging that the DoC needs to perform a facilitating rather than an implementation role in providing broadband, he says a meeting with provincial and municipal authorities is planned to address the rollout of their own broadband infrastructures.

Partnerships and collaboration with the private sector will also be vital, he says.

“We need a national plan if we aim to achieve 100% broadband coverage in the country by 2020.”

DoC director-general Maboko Rosey Sekese adds that, while 100% broadband penetration is a “tall order”, it is important that it become a reality.

“We need to understand what is at stake,” she says. “Unless we can build and massif the rollout of infrastructure our future is bleak.”

The DoC is careful to aim for 100% broadband coverage by 2020, rather than calling it 100% penetration.

Deputy minister Bapela explains that the department is looking to cover 100% of the population with broadband services that are accessible from no more than a 30 minute walk, at a nominal fee.

The digital terrestrial television rollout will also play a part in this, he adds, since set-top boxes will allow Internet access via the television.

Sekese adds that the connection of schools is also part of the vision as they can double up and community centres.