Monday, February 28, 2011

South Africa - Government recommitted to providing broadband for all, to boost the economy

[business live] The Department of Communications has reiterated its key policy of providing broadband for all in an effort to fast-track economic development, including job creation.

On Friday, Communications Minister Roy Padayachie outlined a strategy to create a R250 billion telecommunications industry in SA by 2020.

At a meeting with the country's top 30 information and communication technology (ICT) companies on Friday, he said that the Cabinet had called on the department to initiate programmes and activities to support the building of the New Growth Path. "We seek to guarantee that ICTs will make a substantive contribution as an enabler for economic growth and the creation of new jobs and skills among our people as we strengthen the foundation for a knowledge-based economy," Padayachie said.

The minister highlighted broadband access as a key policy priority. He said that the department aimed to improve broadband penetration to match countries including India, Brazil and Chile. "Our immediate activity will be to develop an Integrated Broadband Plan that will facilitate capital investment, innovation and rural access by 2020," he said.

The minister said that plans for connecting schools, health centres and government centres would not only improve service delivery but would also improve the uptake and usage of broadband by government and individuals. "To increase broadband penetration in schools and other public institutions, we will ensure that all outstanding universal obligations are implemented by industry by the end of 2011," Padayachie said. Policy and regulatory reform for convergence

The Department of Communications said that, by working with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), it would ensure that a pro-competitive regulatory framework was put into place in the telecommunications subsector. Padayachie added that, in its quest to reduce the cost of communication, it would implement "pro-competitive remedies an all anti-competitive markets".

He said: "To achieve this, we will review the current funding model of Icasa to ensure that it is equal to the task while regulating competitively."

On Friday, the department announced the formation of a panel consisting of some of the leading private organisations in the ICT sector to tackle issues related to job creation, skills development, the adoption of forward-looking policies embracing convergence, and more work on the rollout of universal services.

The panel includes Andile Ngcaba, executive chair of Dimension Data SA, Craig Venter, CEO of Altech, Atul Gupta, chair and MD of Sahara Computers, Nolo Letele CEO of Multichoice, Pieter Uys, CEO of Vodacom, Sifiso Dabengwa, CEO of MTN, and Jayendra Naidoo, director and chair of J&J Group.

State reaffirms 'broadband for all' pledge

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