Project Isizwe to add 213 schools to free WiFi network

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Free WiFi pioneers Project Isizwe entered its second phase of development, with plans to extend its reach beyond municipal areas and civic buildings to schools in outlying parts of Tshwane. The project was launched by mayor of Tshwane, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, at HL Setlalentoa high school in Ga-Rankuwa this morning.

Ramokgopa praised the public-private partnership behind Isizwe: bandwidth to the school has been provided by Neotral and Huawei has donated 25 Mediapad tablets preloaded with textbooks from MacMillan for the launch.

Networking schools through Project Isizwe will be a key part of achieving the Gauteng education department’s “Classroom of the future” program, which will be formally unveiled over the next few weeks.

“The ability to learn is no longer a function of what the teacher shares,” Ramokgopa said, “it’s a function of your appetite to research. It’s unlimited.”

Ramokgopa says that the decision to launch phase two of the project in the northern regions of Ga-Runkawa rather than in a more developed metro area was to highlight previous lack of investment in infrastructure. Connecting schools in poorer areas was about “restoring dignity” he said.

According to Project Isizwe head, former Mxit boss Allan Knott-Craig jnr, in the first eight months of operation the network of Project Isizwe hotspots has grown to the point where it has capacity for a million users a month, with a daily cap of 250MB per user per day. During phase two that capacity will be increased to 3m unique users – a figure larger than the official population of Tshwane.

“Internet access should be like water and electricity,” Knott-Craig said at the launch, “Everyone in the world should be able to access a quota of water and electricity and everyone should be able to access the internet.“

Mayor Ramokgopa says that he believes Isizwe will be a model for creating connected municipalities across the continent.

“We’re crafting something very unique, something future generations will be able to celebrate.”

To mark the launch of phase two, Project Isizwe has put together a little video about it, below. A full list of hotspots is available on the City of Tshwane site.

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