Ekurhuleni aims to transform itself into a digital city and has laid down a digital framework as part of its growth development strategy up to 2055.
The municipality yesterday launched a digital city partnership with Huawei, and unveiled a raft of digital services supported by broadband connectivity already deployed by the parties.
Through the partnership, it is believed that Ekurhuleni has achieved the cheapest cost per site rollout of any major South African city, positioning it as a springboard for technology startups, and to create jobs and promote entrepreneurship in previously disadvantaged and underdeveloped areas.
The project, which began in 2013, resulted in the formation of sound foundations in the communications and computing platforms by rolling out fibre installation to connect all city buildings as well as integration and data sharing with other institutions for more efficient service delivery.
Lydia Ntlhophi, divisional dead: BRM ICT in the Ekurhuleni department of ICT, tells IT-Online that the project’s first phase aims for fibre connectivity and free WiFi to 695 municipal offices as well as 120 libraries, clinics and schools.
In this phase, up to 2,2-million unique users will receive 500Mb of free data every day.
This will involve 1 400km of fibre, of which 800km has already been laid at a cost of about R78-million. A total of 3 000 hotspots are planned, with about 2 000 already operational.
During the second phase, the municipality will consolidate multiple data centres into three, which will reduce costs and improve management. A common financial program will be rolled out across the municipality as well.
So far, the partnership with Huawei has seen an improvement in government efficiency with the installation of CCTV, together with smart meters, to enable monitoring and reduction of energy consumption.
“This effective and thriving partnership serves as a benchmark to the public and private sectors to accelerate investments in ICT in order to develop the technologies that will enhance government, improve service delivery, and create jobs and business opportunities that facilitate the community access to a better life,” says Ntlhophi.
Alex Du, MD of Huawei Enterprise South Africa, says it is vital for role players, such as Huawei, to continue to invest in innovation to bring about technologies that will positively affect planning, promote access to economic opportunities while encouraging inclusive growth epitomised by local empowerment.
As a result of the partnership, Ekurhuleni received the award in the category of best ICT Service Delivery and Transformation Award Local Government. This award was in recognition for the most outstanding service delivery, or a product or service, and/or transformation at a Local government level.
In turn, Huawei received the best ICT Innovation and Service Transformation Company Award. This award was given to a company, with a turnover greater than R10-million per annum, which had improved service delivery to the community.
“Huawei will continue to leverage strong foundational technologies to support future digital cities,” says Du. “We are committed to creating a better connected world and promote a world built on information economy. We need to recognise and promote the importance of building partnerships because they bridge the gap between the ICT public and private sectors. This will lead to innovation development and sharing and improve public service and delivery.”