More than 720 000 households in various parts of Johannesburg will over the next 18 months be trained in digital literacy to enable them to use and benefit from broadband connections in the city.
At a function held at the University of Johannesburg on Friday August 7, Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau gave digi-entrepreneurs the thumbs-up to work with the City of Johannesburg in its drive to bridge the digital divide across the city. Mayor Tau first announced the R80-million Jozi Digital Ambassadors Programme during his 2015-2016 State of the City Address in May.

The recruitment and assessment of 3 000 digital ambassadors has begun and is being effected through Vulindlel’ eJozi, a programme initiated in partnership with non-governmental organisation Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator to break down barriers to youth employment. The City runs the Jozi Digital Ambassadors Programme in partnership with the University of Johannesburg.

“We’re a city where the young lead the call for transformation, demanding the opportunity to work, improve their lives and become the best of what they can be. As the City of Johannesburg we know and understand that with just a little help, our youth are not the challenge some think them to be, but our greatest asset.

“This is why we are investing so much in the youth of this city. This is in line with our developmental local government approach to the implementation of the 2040 Growth and Development Strategy,” said Mayor Tau.

The programme will use a new City portal called Maru a Jozi, a Setswana phrase for “Joburg clouds”. Maru a Jozi is an easy-to-use portal that enables one free access to a range of basic online services. Each digital ambassador will be equipped with a tablet to train community members. They will also be mentored in business acumen to enable them to use technology to create innovation for their own enterprises.

Mayor Tau said the City was not only empowering people with digital knowledge and understanding but was also addressing the fact that half of Johannesburg’s 4.8 million residents did not have regular access to the internet. He said this was being corrected by the rollout of more than 1 000 Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the city.

University of Johannesburg’s Professor Johan Meyer said the programme would “enable the broader Johannesburg community to engage with digital technology, for example, in online job seeking opportunities, banking applications and access to digital services”.