ANC’s free Wi-Fi ‘an election ploy’
The City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality started the ball rolling and the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality followed suit. Now, the ANC-governed Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality is offering free Wi-Fi to its residents.
While the development has been welcomed by residents, particularly pupils and tertiary students, the opposition DA is not impressed. The party has described the move as an electioneering ploy and says it is an idea that the city stole from its own mayoral campaign.
The metro’s executive mayor, Danny Jordaan, is pulling out all the stops to lure voters to the ANC ahead of the local government elections in August, and unveiled the Wi-Fi project at Walmer High School this week.
According to the city, a pilot Wi-Fi service has been made available at municipal libraries and a number of customer care centres since April. The project offered 100 megabytes of free internet a day at 17 municipal facilities in libraries, townships and at customer care centres.
Kupido Baron, the Nelson Mandela Bay mayoral spokesperson, said the Wi-Fi project also provided a voice call service that would cost a fraction of the price charged by other service providers, which could spark data price wars with network providers – if they don’t file a complaint with the authorities about the competition from the municipality, that is.
Residents will have access to 1 000MB of data a month and, through the city’s partnership with Spectrum Communication Specialists, they will be offered substantially lower data and internet voice-calling rates once their free data is depleted. The voice calls are expected to cost as little as 20c a minute.
The broadband service includes e-Connect – an indoor service that is designed specifically for pupils and students to link up with the city’s schools and tertiary institutions, where each person gets 100MB for free per device per day.
The B Connected network app will deliver affordable and wireless voice and internet services to residents and businesses for less.
The service is currently available in parts of Walmer, KwaMagxaki, KwaNobuhle and Kruisrivier.
Baron said residents would receive free Wi-Fi and voice calls if they qualified for free basic water and electricity services, and if they had a paid-up municipal account or their account arrangements were up to date. He did not explain how the municipality would cross-check and verify this.
Jordaan said the council wanted to make the metro a smart city by using some of the 2010 World Cup infrastructure Nelson Mandela Bay received.
“We are creating a new paradigm, converting infrastructure that we have and generating possibilities for the residents,” he said.
Athol Trollip, the DA’s mayoral candidate, said that although it was a good thing for government to offer such services in the fast-changing world of technology, it was interesting that ideas expressed during the DA’s mayoral campaign were now being rolled out by the ANC.
“It just shows that the DA can get things done, even as the opposition, let alone in government. We live in a technological age, so it’s the right thing to do. I am inspired by the fact that we are getting the ANC to do something. But we are looking forward to doing it properly ourselves in two months’ time,” Trollip said.