BAOBAB FIBRE PROJECT: SALDANHA BAY MUNICIPALITY DIGITAL CITIZEN APPLICATION

BAOBAB FIBRE PROJECT: SALDANHA BAY MUNICIPALITY DIGITAL CITIZEN APPLICATION

BAOBAB FIBRE PROJECT: SALDANHA BAY MUNICIPALITY DIGITAL CITIZEN APPLICATION

Saldanha Bay Municipality strives to be innovative and at the forefront of technology.  To this effect, it has embraced the challenge to prepare the municipal area for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) with an inclusive approach, enabling citizens to engage in a digital transformation.

Saldanha Bay Municipality is proud to announce that the Baobab open access network (OAN) fibre project, a multi-centric utility focus, is delivering on two important Smart City building blocks.

The first building block, being the installation of a singular master open access network, is a digital highway unlocking a wide variety of approved Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Secondly enabling all Saldanha Bay Municipal residents and businesses the freedom of choice to contract with and make use of the value-added services on offer (data, content, bundle services, and municipal utility management).

Technology is not the solution on its own, but it is an enabler and catalyst that can be utilised in innovative ways to achieve socio-economic development in communities.  A project such as this, is embedded in the overarching framework, of Saldanha Bay Municipality’s  open access infrastructure, that will focus on solving the provision of fibre-to-the-X for all in the community, that creates an open, equitable and transparent platform for the private sector and municipality to provide value-added services on the back of the fibre network and platforms.

The Baobab fibre project was formally initiated on 6 December 2021 and has made huge strides in establishing the open access fibre infrastructure, (which has already been) installed in Langebaan, Saldanha and Vredenburg. The initial focus is on civil trenching works.  The project plan makes provision for completion of works within an estimated 18 months, when the entire Saldanha Bay Municipal area will be covered with network infrastructure.  The civils and ducting project will now extend to Jacobsbaai, Paternoster, St Helena Bay and Hopefield with an expected completion date of approximately August 2023.

To date, a total of four local Internet Service Providers are contracted and are in the process of being on-boarded onto the Zoom Fibre network.  National and regional Internet Service Providers will offer their value-added services to all our citizens and local businesses.

In addition, various telecommunication points of presence have been deployed in each town to inter- connect the towns. In addition, the OAN fibre network partner, Zoom Fibre, will start with the fibre long hauls between the seven Saldanha Bay Municipal towns, ensuring redundancy, reliability, availability and quality of services of the deployed network.

As interest in so called Smart Cities continues to grow, driven by a range of social, economic and technological developments that are impacting cities around the world, more are committing to programmes geared towards sustainability, innovation and economic development that depend on technological investments.

Choosing the correct partners and providers to deliver these programmes is of critical importance for the future of Saldanha Bay Municipality.  An effective telecommunications network and related services are essential enablers of such a smart municipal vision.

We are proud to say that we are the only municipality in the country to have tackled this holistic problem head-on. We have built a proof-of-concept network to test the viability of creating and integrating fibre as a utility. The Baobab fibre project can connect every single household in our area of jurisdiction, and it will depend on the end-user to order their desired services on the back of this connection, with municipal utilities it, as a standard provision.

On Friday, 1 July 2022, the Saldanha Bay Municipality will deliver on the second building block by activating the Saldanha Bay Municipality Digital Citizen Application that is integrated with the open access network to deliver its utility services digitally to prospective users.  The Digital Citizen Application will connect citizens, businesses and the municipality with one another to create a smarter, more efficient working community.

Baobab Fibre Project Statistics: Currently in Progress

 Vredenburg

Saldanha

Langebaan

Total meters combined
Total planned meters 266 609 m
Total meters completed 247 244 m

Vredenburg
Total planned meters 124 081 m
Total meters completed 106 197 m

Langebaan
Total planned meters 70 267 m
Total meters completed 68 786 m

Saldanha
Total planned meters 72 261 m
Total meters completed 72 261 m

Activities for broadband services are underway in the above-mentioned areas and can be pre-ordered.

The Digital Citizen App, conceptualised by Amoeba TSC and aligned to function effortlessly with municipal systems, forms part of the Baobab Fibre project, which is focused on connecting every single household in the municipal area.

The application is a comprehensive engagement platform between the citizens, municipality and service providers with the following functionalities: communication, emergency button, helpdesk, utility management, services shopping, digital wallet and payments, document repository, events, photo gallery and facility management. Certain functionalities are still under construction.

Community Focus:

The Baobab fibre project is focused on more than just providing an Open Access Network in the Saldanha Bay Municipal area. Zoom Fibre is further committed to supplying every school within the region with a free fibre connection in line with the Zoom Fibre school initiative. Throughout the roll-out of the network Zoom Fibre has further committed to supply temporary and permanent local employment, either directly with Zoom Fibre or through their build partner First in Fibre Optics (Pty) Ltd. (FIFO). To date the project has involved over 200 local persons with temporary employment opportunities:  

Baobab Fibre Project: Local Employment
Month 2022 Saldanha Average Langebaan Average Vredenburg Average
February 2022 50 24 92
March 2022 56 11 143
April 2022 12 8 42
May 2022 26 16 194

Zoom Fibre and FIFO have further committed to engage local Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in every phase of the project roll out. Project opportunities are advertised and published on the Saldanha Bay Municipality website, under the “Baobab Fibre Project” tab. To appoint suitable and quality local businesses to assist with these project opportunities, formal vetting is done by both the Saldanha Bay Municipality and Zoom Fibre.

The Saldanha Bay Municipal Digital Citizen App for Android and iOS can be downloaded from the various app stores.

Android from the Google Play Store, iOS from the Apple App store and Huawei App Gallery.

Download Instructions:

Search for Saldanha Digital Citizen and follow download instructions. Register as a user.

Homeowners can link their Saldanha Bay Municipality properties in the application.

Enquiries: E-mail to Baobab@sbm.gov.za.

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SALDANHA BAY MUNICIPALITY AT THE FOREFRONT OF IMPLEMENTING NEXT-GENERATION TECHNOLOGY – FIBRE INFRASTRUCTURE TAKING SHAPE

In the wake of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR or Industry 4.0, it has become inevitable for governments to become part of this rapidly growing development.  With its finger on the pulse of a changing, technology driven, global environment, Saldanha Bay Municipality recognises the value that 4IR can bring to enhance the lives of its residents through e-government services, smart resource management, safety, artificial intelligence (AI) and many other value-added services.

Saldanha Bay Municipality strives to be innovative and at the forefront of technology and to this effect, it embraced the challenge of getting our municipal area ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and to enable our citizens to take up the opportunities and enhancements that 4IR brings.

Traditional methods for telecommunication services deployment is driven largely by uptake or potential uptake. For maximum uptake, large citizen or potential user numbers are required within the medium to high income groups or a large industry footprint is a prerequisite to justify the roll-out of, for example, fibre infrastructure within a municipal area.  Whilst from a commercial point of view, this concept is understood, however, it did not support the vision that Council had for improved connectivity in the Saldanha Bay Municipal area at large. The only resolve seemed to be that the municipality itself had to drive fibre installation from a basic infrastructure perspective in order to give access to all its citizens. A model driven by basic need for decent connectivity, rather than by uptake and the potential to earn return on investment was adopted.  This new model or project was coined BAOBAB since it turns the traditional model upside down – similar to the burly baobab tree that looks like it is growing with its routes above ground.

The mistake is often made to adopt technologies without due consideration for the back-end infrastructure that exists, to support new technologies. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is no different.  Many countries will be left behind due to lack of infrastructure geared to support the impact of 4IR.  Weary nót to fall behind and to remain receptive to all opportunities that modern-day technology is offering, Saldanha Bay Municipality actively, in a responsible and sustainable  manner, embarked on the journey to establish an innovative, next generation infrastructure that will provide an open access fibre network utility which will be available to all consumers within the municipal boundaries.  Saldanha Bay Municipality is proud to proclaim that it is currently the only municipality in South Africa that has tackled the challenge of data network connectivity within its communities.

In order to further invest in the success of the project, Saldanha Bay Municipality proactively built a “proof of concept network” that tested the viability of creating fibre as a utility service, designed to connecting every single household within the municipal area.

This infrastructure and system will in future deliver sustainable, scalable and replicable local programmes and projects that will directly support the following “SBM Game Changer Objectives,” namely: 

  • Stimulate and support economic development and growth;
  • Deliver service that shows customer care;
  • Next generation fibre infrastructure as a utility will place Saldanha Bay Municipality at the forefront of technology and innovation;
  • The digital platform will allow you to drive a cleanliness programme across multiple digital channels;
  • The Open Access Network (OAN) platform and its broad technology capabilities will create new opportunities for the community, whereas a cost-effective utility is provisioned for delivery of an extensive layer of services such as Internet Service providers (ISPs), content, education, utility management (for example water and electricity), security and the internet of things (IoT).
  • The spare capacity of the network will be made available to all internet service providers who have the required licensing to operate as an open access network supplier and that will enable them to provide services to all our residents. Saldanha Bay Municipality, through its BAOBAB project, will be connecting all households to this fibre network. 

Some of the key advantages of this project are:

  • Freedom to choose you provider – open access infrastructure is open to all.
  • Reduced cost of communication – 48% of the cost is for the physical network installation.
  • Easy to switch between providers.
  • Allows for better e-government solutions.
  • Makes cross subsidising lower income groups possible for the municipality.
  • Smart city/town concepts.
  • Revenue enhancement.
  • Better broadband penetration and uptake.
  • Municipal owned television stations.

With COVID-19 we have already ascertained a boom in the local property market, marking a trend where people are moving from busy urban areas to coastal towns and rural areas where they can experience a more serene lifestyle. People have realised that they can work from anywhere in the world if they are able to be connected.  We must therefore actively address improvement of the connectivity issues in the area; project BAOBAB aims to meet this challenge.  The dream of a connected, digitised municipality is fast becoming a reality!

Additional spin-offs of Project BAOBAB:

  • Temporary work and permanent jobs will be created over the life cycle of this project.
  • Skills transfer and training of local workers will be done to ensure that competent and well-trained resources are available to maintain the network over a very long term.
  • Local businesses are encouraged to participate with the projects and business owners are encouraged to contact the Baobab Program Office in this regard at E-mail: leon@amoebatsc.com
  • The Saldanha Bay Municipal ward councillors will be fully versed with the most important project elements to ensure that the local communities are able to reap the full benefits of what the project has to offer.
  • In March 2022 the Baobab team will launch the Saldanha Bay Municipality Mobile Citizen Application. This will include communication across social media platforms.
  • From March 2022 roadshows within the different municipal towns will commence. Activities will include public community meetings to be hosted in each town where members of the public will be briefed in person about the various aspects of the project.  The value and benefits of the Baobab Project will be discussed and explained to interested parties.

It is important to note that any individual, groups or businesses that illegally engage with the project, performing unauthorised and illegal trenching work in the municipal area, without the necessary Wayleave approvals, will be acted upon. No construction or other work that will negatively impact on the execution of the BAOBAB project, where an official appointment letter by First in Fibre Optics (Pty) Ltd. cannot be presented, will not be allowed.  Such activities will need to be reported to Saldanha Bay Municipality Law Enforcement Agencies.    Interested parties who would like to become involved with the further execution and/or civil works that entails the project, can send an E-mail to baobab@sbm.gov.za for assistance and consideration.

ISSUED BY:

Saldanha Bay Municipality

Communications and Public Relations

Enquiries: E-mail to baobab@sbm.gov.za

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