Government is currently in the process of securing a private company to deploy 40 public WiFi hotspots in around President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, to the tune of R60 million.
According to sources within the Office of the Presidency, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the plan was drawn up in April 2015 in order to “improve current facilities that will benefit the community within the compound’s surrounds”.
Exact details on the project are yet to be revealed, but the Presidency is said to be looking for a competent WiFi infrastructure and software solution provider to deliver a basic service.
The price tag raises major concerns seeing as the aim is only to provide 40 hotspots, and the fact that the president and his homestead have already been the centre of controversy for years as a result of the more than R200 million cost of its upgrades.
The South African Constitutional Court yesterday ruled that President Zuma must personally pay the price suggested by National Treasury for the costs of the upgrades within 45 days.
In a recent interview htxt.africa had with the City of Cape Town about its plans for public WiFi, the city revealed that deploying 219 WiFi hotspots cost R4.435 million for the 2015/16 financial year.
The City of Ekurhuleni told us it spent R40 million on deploying over 940 WiFi hotspots across its municipality in the last financial year.
Both cities have a combined population of over seven million residents while the surrounding Nkandla homestead only has a fraction of that amount.
Certain “internet of things” vendors, speaking off the record, have indicated that the infrastructure could be used for internet connected devices implanted in local cattle and chickens, both kraal-based and not, in order to measure productivity and help boost efficient farming in the area. The new connectivity would also be a boon to journalists live-blogging future events on location.