For immediate release
19 February 2017
The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr. Siyabonga Cwele led another successful consultation with the ICT sector on the implementation of the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper.
The consultation was held on Friday, 17 February 2017, in Pretoria and was organised by the National ICT Forum. The meeting was attended by over 300 stakeholders representing Government, people with disabilities, ICT business leaders, ICT SMME, industry associations, the National Consumer Commission and labour. The event took place against the background of government’s approach to involve all role players in the restructuring of the ICT sector with the introduction of a new market structure. This is needed to empower SMMEs and other entrants into the sector.
“We are making progress towards implementing the new ICT Policy. Our preference for consultation is yielding the desired results because we are edging closer to an agreement on how best we speedily implement this very important policy,” said Minister Cwele.
The White Paper also introduces the establishment of capacity to measure and interpret ICT statistics to track the progress the country is making towards creating a knowledge and information society. There is also focus on ensuring that ICT infrastructure and services are universally accessible and affordable to all citizens, especially people with disabilities.
For the first time, the delegates supported the introduction of the Wholesale Open Access Network and made presentations on how it can be implemented.
Some of the proposals include the following;
The meeting also discussed facilitating transformation and SMME development through procurement. The delegates proposed that a minimum of 30% of Government ICT spend should be set aside for BBBEE Level 1 companies in year one, increasing to 40% in year two and 51% in year three. The proposal is for these procurement targets to be applicable to State-Owned Companies as well. There was a proposal to scrutinise workplace transformation as the Commission on Employment Equity Report for 2015/16 reflected a drop to 14.3% in the representation of blacks in the top management structures of the sector compared to the results of 2007 when the level was 18.8%.
There was a proposal to establish a framework to ensure or promote recognition of prior learning, experiential and workplace based skills and for all ICT skills development organizations to collaborate and avoid duplication and gaps.
There were discussions on facilitating dynamic regulations and on empowering the regulator to effectively oversee the sector.
“As South Africans, we have demonstrated that we can achieve great things when we work together. We encourage our big and small companies to innovate to ensure their sustainability,” said Cwele.
He said Government ICT policies encourage services competition and a reduction in infrastructure competition because it is when companies compete on the services they provide to consumers that prices can fall.
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services will process all the inputs as they develop the Implementation Plan of the White Paper before submitting it to Cabinet. The Department will also identify areas where further discussions are required and facilitate the debate. The aim is to finalise the Implementation Plan by the end of March 2017 and start implementing aspects of the policy that do not require legislative changes soon thereafter.
“We are committed to consultations but we must speedily implement the policy because the sector is dynamic,” said Cwele.
Issued by the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services
19 February 2017