CAPE TOWN, The government of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province says it will prioritise connecting Internet to at least five of its district municipalities this fiscal year after the University of Cape Town’s Youth Portal revealed that a staggering 72 per cent of youth in the province has no Internet access at home.

Despite the Internet forming part of the new digital era, most young people in Northern Cape are still yearning to experience and access it easier. Less than four percent of them can access the information medium hassle free.

Northern Cape is still lagging behind other provinces in ensuring that people are able to search for information and explore the World Wide Web.

During his State of the Nation Address in 2015, President Jacob Zuma announced the beginning of the first phase of the South African government’s broadband roll-out initiative. The Northern Cape was among the places which would benefit.

Fast forward to 2017, the Northern Cape government says it is still in talks with the telecommunications department. Provincial spokesperson Monwabisi Nkompela said Internet connection is at the top of their list of priorities.

“Issues of Internet access is extremely important to the provincial government programme of action. We are aware that issues of poverty play a particular role and issues of geographic dynamics of the province play a particular role. However, we are trying to engage with municipalities around creating Wi-fi hot spots in their areas,” said Nkompela.

Technology research and strategy organization World Wide Worx revealed in its latest report that although Internet usage in South Africa has increased, there is still a digital divide between different provinces.

World Wide Worx Managing director Arthur Goldstock, stressed the importance of Internet access. “Internet now is almost synonymous with the world of business and information and when you don’t have access to the Internet you are set back firstly and secondly you are falling further and further behind your peers,” he added.

“We don’t see any real infrastructure projects so the government needs to support and fund those kind of projects because private enterprises will only go where they can make money.”

The provincial government says it has already identified 200 facilities that they will connect immediately to the Internet.