Address by the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, at the Ministerial Roundtable on Aviation Transformation, Kempton Park, 25 August 2014
Programme Director, Mr Zakhele Thwala, DDG: Civil Aviation,
Deputy Minister of Transport, Honourable Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga
Deputy Ministers present,
Government and industry leaders,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to address this Ministerial Round-table Summit on the topic of Transformation in the Aviation sector.
The Agenda of this summit also invites us to address the topic on the Telecommunications and Postal Services Role in Aviation Space; and New opportunities that can make relevant contributions.
ICTs in the Aviation Sector
Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen
The National Development Plan 2030 envisions a South Africa where everyone feels free yet bounded to others; where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work. Our young people deserve better educational and economic opportunities.
It is imperative that as we talk about transformation in the aviation sector we also talk about relevant skills for the sector. Appropriate skills are important as a step towards inclusion of our young people especially young women into the entire value chain of the aviation sector. As a nation we need to encourage our young people to take up subjects in Mathematics and Science in order to channel them towards myriad careers available in aviation. In most cases these subjects are the driving force behind innovation. Technological innovation opens up opportunities for substantial employment creation. Increased technological innovation also leads to increased economies of scale in the aviation sector. Our institutions of higher learning should package their curriculums to such a degree that they allow students to be ready to enter and participate in a sector such as aviation when they complete their studies.
We, the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services have a responsibility for the National Spectrum Band Plan on behalf of our government and the citizens of our country. The Aviation Industry is heavily reliant on the Frequency Spectrum resources allocated to it by the International Telecommunications Union. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is the industry regulator charged with spectrum allotment and coordination of the use of spectrum in the country.
Information and Telecommunications Technology forms the foundation of the Air Traffic Management system. The Aviation sector is the large users of telecommunication services and information technology services for communications needs of the airline industry in general.
Through the World Telecommunications and Standardization Assembly, a body of the International Telecommunications Union, global telecommunications standards are adopted to ensure safety, interoperability and cost reduction for telecommunications services.
Honourable Deputy Ministers and distinguished guests
We are fully aware of the risks associated with poor communications facilities in the Aviation Industry which include navigation, surveillance and air traffic management. Communication technology in this sector forms part of the safety strategies for individual flights, military flights and choppers and commuter passengers.
We therefore believe that the Aviation Industry and the Telecommunications sector must continue collaborative efforts to ensure that the research and development programmes take into consideration the communication and technology needs.
Our Department is empowered by the Electronic Communications Act to develop a National Radio-Frequency Spectrum Policy, and it also provides for strong promotion of:
• Protection of the government’s current and planned uses of the radio-frequency spectrum, including but not limited to, civil aviation, aeronautical services and scientific research; and
• Retention of the provisions set out in section 9 of the policy, relating to safety-of-life operations and prioritization of spectrum for such services, respectively.
I also encourage the Aviation Industry and relevant regulators and authorities to ensure that research and development, and innovation spending in the aviation industry should contribute to increasing the adoption of technologies which uses less frequency spectrum, whilst ensuring adherence to global standards. We say this because radio frequency spectrum is an important national scarce resource which must be utilised to advance the better life of our people.
Honourable Deputy Ministers and ladies and gentlemen
According to Stats SA, figures for the period ending December 2012 indicate that the direct tourism contribution to GDP grew from R83.5-billion in 2011 to R93.3-billion or 3% of GDP in 2012. In 2013 more than 14 million foreign visitors arrived in South Africa, a 10.5% increase over 2012. Of these, 9.6-million were tourists. Their seamless entry and exit is in no doubt the result of the work of ATNS. So I do want you to note my appreciation for the work that you do behind-the-scenes.
The rapid change in technology requires the aviation industry (ATNS in particular) to keep abreast of new technologies to ensure improvements in safety and security.
It is our Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services' view, that in order to ensure more safety measures from the communications perspective that more radio frequency spectrum bands should be set aside for civil aviation needs. This point should be emphasized more in order for the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication sector (ITU-R), to allocate spectrum bands for the aviation industry. The Role of this United Nations Body is to conduct research, allocation and manage the use of radio-frequency spectrum by all radiocommunication services, and satellite orbits. This role is conducted through the World (and Regional) Radiocommunication Conferences held every three to four years. The main purpose of the WRC is to update the Radio Regulations, an international treaty governing the use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.
In the awake of the recent disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370/MAS370), African countries (South Africa included) have proposed the introduction of a new resolution at the ITU Plenipotentiary 2014 (PP-14) requesting the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) to consider the spectrum requirements for global flight tracking and real-time flight data monitoring.
These proposals will be tabled at the Plenipotentiary Conference in October this year, in Busan, South Korea. The DTPS recognises that South Africa is a Contracting State to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, an ITU Sector Member with observer status at the World Radio Conference, and that this agency plays a vital role in securing availability of radio-frequency spectrum through the ITU to meet civil aviation requirements for current and future safety of flight applications. We therefore look forward to the Aviation industry participation in the upcoming ITU and WRC conferences later this year.
Transformation and Economic Empowerment
Honourable Deputy Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
The transformation of economic ownership is high on the agenda of government. The many companies which operate in the Aviation sector must comply with the Broadband Black Economic Empowerment law and its generic code of good practice.
The many Information and Communications Technology based companies which are operating in our local Aviation industry are required to comply with the ICT BEE Charter sector code which was finalised and adopted by government in 2012. Our transformation agenda is aimed at correcting the economic imbalances of the past to ensure equitable ownership of the South African economy particularly mainstreaming the participation of historically disadvantaged blacks, and women. We call upon South African Companies to comply with the 07 empowerment elements of the Generic Code of Good practice as well as the ICT sector charter code. These elements include ownership, skills transfer, procurement of goods and services, amongst others.
For instance the ICT Sector Charter code and the Electronic Communications Act set a target of 30 percent ownership by black people. Our State Owned Companies such as the South African Airways, Airports Company South Africa and others must also enhance their capacity in order to comply with legislation aimed at transforming the sector.
Chairperson it is our government's view that compliance with the empowerment legislations will go a long way in confronting the triple challenge of poverty, inequity, and unemployment. The measures will also contribute to changing the economic and social strata of our democratic society.
We are working hard to ensure the full implementation of the B-BBEE Act. In the next few months, we will finalise the appointment of the ICT B-BBEE Charter Council which will monitor compliance and provide reports to the Ministry periodically.
Working together, as government, the private sector, and labour and civil society we must take serious measures to ensure the participation of black people; and particularly women in the management of our companies. The aviation industry is largely a male dominated sector throughout the value chain. We must break away from this discrimination and prioritize the impartation of skills to women in order for them to lead the sector, like they have done in other sectors of our economy. We must also give study bursaries and scholarships in the field of engineering, technology and mathematic in order for our previously marginalised groups to participate in this sector. This sector has the potential to also increase its job creation capability beyond the current levels.
Women Emancipation in the Aviation Sector
In this month of August, we are celebrating women's month under the theme: “Celebrating 60th Anniversary of Women's Charter, 20 years of Freedom: Moving Women’s Agenda Forward”, It is stated that there is less than 2% of women pilots in the country. Whilst acknowledging the progress that has been made, we need to do more in order to increase women participation in the Aviation Industry value chain.
In Conclusion Programme Director,
We are responsible for the area of postal services in the country. Our South African Post Office continues to struggle amid declining mail volume. The aviation industry is largest carrier of global mail from one destination to the other. We are working on instruments to ensure proper coordination of international mail delivery and payments of the necessary terminal dues applicable for international mail as well as trading of philatelic products in the international market. We require the cooperation and the participation of industry in developing these policy instruments.
The power is in our hands, let's make it happen.
I thank you.