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Copy of Delft residents to reap the business benefits of broadband access

Nicole Roman, from Delft, discusses her business plan with Minister Winde, while Steven Hendricks, also from Delft, looks on during an ICT skills development session at the Home of Compassion Ministries. Nicole Roman, from Delft, discusses her business plan with Minister Winde, while Steven Hendricks, also from Delft, looks on during an ICT skills development session at the Home of Compassion Ministries.

Delft residents are using technology to start and expand their own businesses, delivering a valuable contribution to the local economy.

The Home of Compassion Ministries, based in Delft, is connecting residents to economic opportunities through a range of skills development initiatives. The not for profit organisation is one of three NPO’s selected to roll out the Western Cape Government’s Free Wi-Fi project. It is estimated that 82% of the skills development trainees at the centre go on to find employment.

Steven Hendricks (19), a participant in the Information and Communications Technology course, planned to open his own business in the next four years.

“I’ve always been interested in computers and since I have been here I have learned so much. In the next three to four years I will open my own computer business,” said Hendricks.

Residents also receive training on managing budgets and entrepreneurial skills. Alan Winde, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, visited the NPO last week (27 March, 2014) to see first-hand how communities are benefitting from internet access. Home of Compassion Ministries has received a R1m grant from the Western Cape Government to offer Free Wi-Fi to Delft residents.

It is estimated that 43,000 people in Delft will be connected to wireless internet through the project. Twenty two schools will act as central connection points, which will allow learners to access curriculum-based content and reading material.

As the NPO already offers several skills development programmes, Minister Winde said it was important to use benchmarks to measure the impact of the initiatives.

“This is a great example of how internet access connects people to economic opportunities. Soon with a device and connectivity, people will be able to work from where they are. According to the World Bank, every 10% increase in high speed broadband penetration in developing countries results in a 1.3% increase in economic growth. That’s why we are driving broadband initiatives in the areas where they make the biggest difference,” said Minister Winde.

Delft is one of four areas which have been chosen for the Free Wi-Fi pilot project. Atlantis, Robertson and the Garden Route are the other locations. Through this pilot, 90 000 people are going to be connected to the internet.

“This pilot project is going to pioneer the model we will roll out to the entire province. Eventually, we aim to connect every resident must have access to free or affordable internet,” said Minister Winde.

This pilot project is part of the Western Cape Government’s R1.3bn broadband plan.

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