Speech by the Deputy Minister of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Hon. Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize, MP
During the Occasion of
Tourism Career Expo
At Umtata Airport, O R Tambo District Municipality
18 September 2015
Topic: “ICT for sustainable tourism”
Mr Sakhumzi Somyo, MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Cllr. Nomakhosazana Meth, OR Tambo Executive Mayor
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is a great honour for me to share this day with the community from this special province particularly the youth, our future leaders. This is a province of legends, one of our greatest diplomat, O.R Tambo was born right here on this very soil. One of our founding fathers of democracy, an international icon for peace, uTata Nelson Mandela was born here. We have seen millions of people flocking into this province during the painful period when we lost our struggle hero, uTata Nelson Mandela. To this day, uTata’s grave remains a tourist attraction.
Many other great leaders were born in this area, such include our world renowned leaders such as Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe, Goven Mbeki and the list goes on. This is a heritage which has never been understood, the future generation will still have to learn about this history through videotaped speeches, their values and struggles through an online medium. Instead of people having to go to see statues only, tourists will have access to this information online.
You should certainly be proud to be part of such a rich history and heritage. These are people who, not only created a lasting legacy for the Province but went on to change the course of history in South Africa. Today’s gathering captures our common recognition of the importance of the Eastern Cape for our national economy.
The Eastern Cape accounts for half of our automotive industry which is a pillar of our industrial strategy. The province includes two of our metropoles, and the port of Ngqura which has the deepest container terminal port in Africa. It houses major universities and FET colleges as well as the wonders of the coastline and mountains which are central to our tourism industry. Government even at the provincial level must put sufficient budget aside for innovation. Future cars are going to emit less carbon, some will operate on electricity and will integrate technology whereby even blind people can operate them; this all calls for a stronger investment in innovation.
Whilst we recognise the importance of this province to the country’s combined economy, we cannot ignore the triple challenge of, poverty, joblessness and Inequality which we know that they continue to torment our people in deep rural areas. Through the effective use of economic enablers such as Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) this scourge can be erased completely. Our government recognises the ICT sector as an enabler because of its crosscutting nature in almost all the sectors.
ICT Connectivity and Tourism
With software development as one of our strong points, creation of tourism apps should be at the center of our tourism industry to facilitate a user friendly tourism environment. These apps should help the province in capturing the province’s unique food, dance and our traditional attire which distinguishes this area. An online boutique with Xhosa clothing line for instance can be a great source of attraction for most tourists.
South Africa has proven itself to be one of the leading countries in terms of a well-established and sophisticated Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) when we hosted the football world cup in 2010.
Our IT industry is one of the largest and most advanced in Africa, characterized by technology leadership, particularly in the field of mobile software and electronic banking services. It was for this reason that the country was chosen as the host for the 2010 soccer world cup and people where more than willing to come to our country. Over 300 000 tourists visited our country during the world cup with a peace of mind because they could easily connect with their friends and families back at home and they could easily transact without having to carry cash.
For the country, the world cup was a tipping point in the history of tourism and technology. Our state owned information technology parastatal gave all our visitors a first world where everyone could connect.
Connecting South Africa's rural areas to the internet
Today we are here in one of the districts which were mentioned during the State of the Nation Address, the O.R Tambo District Municipality. During his State of the Nation Address, the President Jacob Zuma said: “The year 2015 will mark the beginning of the first phase of broadband roll-out. Government will connect offices in eight district municipalities. These are Dr. Kenneth Kaunda in North West, Gert Sibande in Mpumalanga, O.R. Tambo in the Eastern Cape, Pixley ka Seme in the Northern Cape, Thabo Mofutsanyane in the Free State, Umgungundlovu and Umzinyathi in KwaZulu-Natal, and Vhembe in Limpopo.”
One will notice that the eight districts listed above excludes Gauteng and the Western Cape provinces which have already gone far in terms of broadband rollout. We have set out plans for the implementation of digital opportunities programmes in the NHI pilot sites to ensure that residents in these areas are able to benefit from the rollout of broadband infrastructure.
The hard work of getting South Africa Connected started back in 2013 when the then Department of Communications and the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) started on a project to identify broadband gaps in the entire country. This entailed the process of identifying which areas were connected to broadband and who were the owners of this broadband. The study revealed that:
• Telkom has the largest fibre footprint. Mostly above-ground along poles next to roads.
• Broadband Infraco is using fibre on Eskom and Transnet. Mostly above-ground along power lines.
• National Long Distance (NLD) or Co-built: Vodacom+MTN+Neotel consortium with SANRAL for long distance ducts. Each partner has its own pipe in the duct under the road.
• FibreCo has long distance ducts under road, open access fibre.
• DarkFibreAfrica has majority of city fibre networks (underground), some long distance networks (underground)
• Liquid Telecom has long distance duct under highway
• Other fibre infrastructures included PRASA, B-Wired, Metros, security estates, which had a very short distance links.
Most other “operators” use fibers from the above, and sell as fibre services. Owners/controllers of access to routes/ducts/servitudes/rights-of-way were found to be: SANRAL, Provincial road authorities, Eskom, Transnet, Prasa, and Cities.
Telkom was found to be owning more than 147 000 “cable” kilometers (km) which translates to a calculation of route-distance equaling 88000 km. This was one of the compelling reasons why the entity was made a lead agency in the roll-out of Broadband.
South Africa’s Broadband Policy was published on 06 December 2013. South Africa Connect gives expression to South Africa’s vision in the National Development Plan. South Africa Connect outlines a number of activities to improve broadband in South Africa. The vision for broadband is that by 2020, 100% of South Africans will have access to broadband services at 2.5% or less of the population’s average monthly income. A four-pronged strategy, with both supply- and demand- side interventions will close the identified gaps between the current status of broadband in the country and the vision in the NDP. The four interventions are:
• Digital readiness – laying the foundations for South Africa’s broadband future
• Digital development – addressing needs and measuring sustainable roll-out
• Digital future – roadmap for public and private investment in the next generation broadband networks
• Digital opportunity – ensuring that South Africa harness the benefit of broadband based on skills, R&D, and innovation, entrepreneurship, and relevant content and applications
The Department has revised its Strategic Goals and Objectives to focus on specific Broadband Programme priorities. With regards to Digital development, the purpose is to catalyze broadband connectivity, aiming to provide access to broadband to 50 per cent of the population by 2016 and 90 per cent by 2020. The 2015/16 financial year will see the implementation of the first phase of the digital development pillar, which is providing broadband connection services to schools, health clinics and other government facilities in 8 districts where National Health Insurance is being piloted. The Implementation plan for Phase 2 of Digital Development will also be developed. Other projects include the Rapid Deployment Policy, ICT Capacity building programmes, and development of a Roadmap for the establishment of a wholesale open access network.
It is government’s plan that while the private sector invest in ICT infrastructure for urban and corporate networks, government will co-invest for township and rural access, as well as for e-government, school and health connectivity.
e-Strategies are at the centre of fast-tracking social transformation and the growth of the GDP of the continent. It is important to reiterate the fact that Africa is on a serious economic growth path. It has shown the longest period of sustained and robust economic growth since the 1960s. The results might not be evident as most of our countries are starting from a zero base, either coming out of a war, or a genocide or even an apartheid system. The continent's competitive advantage is that, Africa is a youthful continent with a total population of above one billion and more than 65% of that is under the age of 35 years.
South Africa's scenic beauty, magnificent outdoors, sunny climate, cultural diversity and reputation for delivering value for money have now made it one of the world's fastest growing leisure – and business – travel destinations. The Eastern Cape is one of the provinces which are leading in tourism.
Great strides have been made to use e-government to simplify government procedures, improve access to information by citizens, and improve service delivery, as well as strengthening accountability and transparency. Increasing the efficiency and transparency of the public sector through the wide take-up of ICT will change the way the public administration functions thus improving the availability and quality of public services and increasing opportunities for ordinary citizens to participate in decision-making processes.
ICT CHALLENGES IN THE EASTERN CAPE
We are aware that this province presently has an underdeveloped Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. We are also aware that in terms of the growth of the province by way of commercial and manufacturing operations, there is significant development potential and opportunity in the provincial ICT sector for investment and business operations.
Cognizance is made of the Eastern Cape Information Technology Initiative (ECITI), which is a provincial multi-faceted programme focused on providing support to SMMEs in ICT and related industries. This body is currently at the forefront of the ICT sector in the province and is supported by provincial government in line with provincial growth and development strategies.
OPPORTUNITIES OF ICT IN THE EASTERN CAPE
Opportunities in the provincial ICT and electronics software sector include:
Software Research and Development
The province with its strong tertiary education institutions, provides a solid foundation for investment in research and development of niche software for global markets.
Opportunities exist for the investment in, and development of, a technology park that will act as a technology incubator for the province. This initiative could form part of a private/public partnership between government and the private sector aa well as offering intensive support to SMME's and entrepreneurs wishing to enter the ICT sector.
Business Process Outsourcing and Offshoring
Telecommunications opportunities exist for the supply and maintenance of telecommunication systems in support of call centres and BPO&O operations in the province.
IMPACT OF ICT’S IN TOURISM
The Multiplicative effects of tourism are apparent through the economic effects, various development effects in the form of incentives for employment and social prosperity by implementing and coordinating the activities and services. This also refers to those companies which have been indirectly related to tourism.
Previously emphasized involvement of entities, such as entities that implement their mission in collaboration with the same type of enterprises or integrating with other subjects, seems very important, even crucial to the creation of value chain, regardless to geographic coverage and character of the business. This stresses the need for knowledge of new technologies. ICT offers the ability to foster improved competitive performance through network, clustering and formation of alliances as well as providing the richness of content increasingly required by consumers. Beyond buying, the integration of buying experiences, for example connecting the presentation of physical facilities, delivery processes, finance etc., as well as presentation that reaches customer segments in various new media mobiles, for example iPods, Facebook, is increasingly required. ICT can bring business change depending on attitudes related to IT awareness, i.e. competence related to the application of knowledge in new technologies.
Getting the benefits of ICT’S in tourism Destinations
ICTs are changing significantly the ways in which traditional destination management activities (i.e. planning, development, marketing, promotion, delivery, management, coordination and monitoring of destination’s offering) are being carried out.
For example in the past, few Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) were equipped and/or confident enough to undertake market research. That was rather a domain of costly consultancies. Now with e-mail or web-based questionnaires it is easy and cheap to undertake customer analysis. With web sites it is possible to measure the effectiveness of an advertising campaign as well as to analyze in detail tourists behaviors. The same can be said for planning and development as well as for almost all the other destination management activities.
So ICTs can produce a number of benefits for destination management activities in terms of:
• Reducing costs, for instance lowering the need to print and distributing promotional material, with savings that can reach the 90% just for brochures;
• Reducing times needed for undertaking activities, for instance the collection and analysis of tourism data, while at the same time increasing their effectiveness (e.g. augmenting periodicity without additional costs);
• Increasing quality, for instance with the introduction of authorization processes enabling distributed editing of tourism contents, ensuring up-to-date as well as precision and truthfulness of information provided;
• Increasing effectiveness, for instance through the delivery of targeted promotional campaigns for specific high-value segments or even individuals (using Customer Relationship Management applications) or using web-based learning systems for vocational training, ensuring a wider diffusion of knowledge and competences.
Furthermore, ICTs add new sources of revenues to fund the activities of DMOs such as real profits coming from booking commissions, the selling of services and even royalties and licences on applications and technologies developed. These benefits highlight that ICTs can provide local tourism, public and private actors in charge or involved in destination management with the tools, the applications and ultimately with the opportunity to undertake these activities in more cost-effective, autonomous, and in perspective more qualified manner.
The economy of this province is driven by tourism. In many instances we see that whenever there is a major activity happening, the hotels will be fully booked with no alternative.
At the same time there are many local Bread and Breakfasts (B&Bs) which can be used to deal with the surplus. This calls for a creation of websites and apps which will be used to promote these B&Bs as well as promote the province’s culture, food and traditional regalia. More information about the origin of the food and the benefits of eating them could be displayed on the website; background information about the traditional regalia could also be put up on the website in terms of the meaning behind wearing them.
I thank you!