South Africa’s shopping centre owner, Hyprop, is preparing to roll out a first 30 minutes free WiFi access in its properties across the country, a positive development so far as it exposes the country’s backwardness on the internet access trends.
Only in South Africa, when seen as a middle income country, does such a development warrant mentioning. South Africa has moved at a snail’s pace towards achieving universal internet access. It has been overtaken by a number of African countries which started the public internet access drive much later but have made significant progress.
The JSE listed retail property giant, Hyprop, announced last week the launch of an initiative to make available some free WiFi in its shopping centres. Hyprop features in its portfolio some of the largest and most prestigious properties in the country. These include properties like Canal Walk in Cape Town and Hyde Park Corner and Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg.
Hyprop has partnered with MWEB and launched the initiative at Canal Walk last week. The company said the initiative will be rolled out across its shopping centre portfolio during the course of 2014.
The company said shoppers visiting Canal Walk this festive season can look forward to free high-speed uncapped MWEB WiFi until 31 January 2014. Shoppers have access to quality, full coverage WiFi from 5 December 2013 in the Centre Court and all common areas from mid-December onwards.
“Shoppers can now browse the internet on their smartphones, tablets and laptops, download apps and chat on social networking platforms. MWEB has partnered with WeChat, DSTV and MyEdit to ensure customers can enjoy even more quality downloads, content and social media content.”
Hyprop CEO Pieter Prinsloo said “This initiative complements Hyprop’s other technology advancements such as, mobile applications and a presence on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The initiative will also help improve the shopping experience by giving shoppers access to product and restaurant reviews while retailers can inform shoppers about specials and upcoming events”.
The company said at the end of January, shoppers will continue to have access to internet and get the first 30 minutes free WiFi access.
Other properties to benefit from this initiative include Clearwater Mall, The Glen, Woodlands Boulevard, Cape Gate Retail Precinct and Somerset Mall. The move could pressure other shopping centre owners to follow suit thus joining a number of their tenants who have long realised that free WiFi can be a customer puller. One name which comes to memory is restaurant chain Mimmos.