KZN’s R4bn Broadband Boost
The Portfolio Committee on Economic Development wants to create jobs, develop skills and develop Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs) with the coming of a multi-billion Rand broadband roll-out in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
“Our responsibility as the Committee is to see this project creating jobs, providing skills to our people and boosting our small businesses, thereby improving the country’s economy. Ideally, we want projects like these to help in the eradication of poverty,” said the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Economic Development, Ms Elsie Coleman.
She said this on an oversight visit to Richards Bay, where the Committee was assessing the possible impact of the planned broadband project on economic development.
Mr Linley Naderh of Kwa-Zulu Natal’s Department of Economic Development told the Committee that the project had the potential to create about 35 000 jobs. “The number of jobs depends on the internet model used, for example, if you use more optic fibre, more people will be employed because this system is (initially) more labour intensive than the wireless, which requires less manpower to implement,” he said.
Young people in particular would benefit from this project, with the Department’s Moses Kotane Institute providing training to some 10 000 matriculants. “Five thousand are being trained in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and 5 000 in Business Processing Operations (BPO),” he added.
The Department admitted that the project had no specific budget set aside to benefit SMMEs, but said they did support small businesses through their SMME support programme.
“The project is open to any business that wants to provide a service as long it has the requisite resources. SMMEs that want to be part of the project could apply for the funding though our SMME programme or form a co-operative, enabling them to jointly fund their operations,” Mr Naderh said.
The Committee told the Department that when economic projects were conceptualised, national economic objectives needed to be taken into account.
“Provinces ought to align their economic interventions with the National Growth Path (NGP) as well as with the second Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP2 ). We must all pull in the same direction,” members stressed.
The Committee underlined the need for departments to coordinate plans and create synergies, because this was the best way for the government to make a meaningful impact on the lives of citizens. As the project is rolled out over the next six years it will provide internet access to schools, clinics, business areas and homes in KwaZulu-Natal.