Address by Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, The Deputy Minister of Telecommunications & Postal Services

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ADDRESS BY MS STELLA NDABENI-ABRAHAMS,
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS & POSTAL SERVICES: PARLIAMENT, CAPE TOWN.

Theme: 4th Industrial revolution and the continued pursuit of inclusive economic growth through ICTs:
Investing in the Youth

 

24 May 2017

Honourable Speaker
Minister of Telecommunications & Postal Services, Dr. Siyabonga Cwele,
Chairperson & Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee;
The Director-General;
Chairpersons, board members and CEOs of State Owned Entities within the DTPS Portfolio;
Senior Government Officials;
Captains of the Industry;
Members of the media present this afternoon;
Ladies and gentlemen.

Molweni, Avuxeni, Thobela, Ndi matshihari, Lochani, Good Afternoon, Goeie Middag.


Context of our Budget Vote.

It is an honor for me to stand before you this afternoon to deliver my maiden Budget Vote Speech as the Deputy Minister since my re-appointment to this portfolio on the 31st March 2017.

This is a portfolio that is very close to my heart, especially in realising the role that Information and Communication Technologies play in advancing socio-economic development. I therefore look forward to this second coming.

With the guidance and continued support from you all, I have no doubt that we will drive the ICT agenda in the country and change the lives of our people to whom we owe this honor.

This Budget Vote coincides with 100 years since, our struggle hero, Comrade Oliver Tambo was born. This is the man who is credited not only for keeping the ANC together during the torrid times in exile, but he co-founded the ANC Youth league in 1944, thus ensuring that the movement grows and regenerates itself.

By establishing the ANC Youth League, Comrade O.R. understood that the future of any organization, movement, or country lies in its ability to invest in the youth.
In this respect, this financial year will see the Department placing more focus on programmes which speak to youth development and women empowerment.

 

Our ICT World.

Honourable Chairperson
South Africa’s ICT industry, like anywhere else, is going through rapid changes with the global challenges of 4th industrial revolution inevitably beaconing.

Our response in this regard, has to be cognisant of us as a developing country with the prevailing legacies of the preceding revolutions (1, 2 and 3).

As OR Tambo addressed the extended meeting of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC), on 1 April 1975, he posed the three points to the meeting; that “we, have to identify our position. Do we not belong to the past? Are we properly marching with the times”?

In responding to the points raised, we need to be mindful that whatever they are, the benefits of the 4th industrial revolution will never be meaningful to us if they do not help us to overcome the digital divide, empower our youth and women, create jobs and bolster SMMEs.

These are the challenges and aspirations we seek to address as mapped out in the National Development Plan 2030 and the 9-point plan. We shall not rest until they are achieved.

It is unfortunate that we have to deliver on them in a negative economic environment, characterized by declining public funds owing to various competing needs, investment downgrades and unfavorable exchange rates.

 

Our commitments last year.

Chairperson and Honourable members, when we appeared before this august house last year, we made the following commitments:
• Finalise the merger of the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA), the e-Skills Institute (eSI), and the Institute of Satellite Software Applications (ISSA) to form the Ikamva National e-Skills Institute (iNeSI) in order to coordinate and promote e-Skills in South Africa. An amount of R126.4 million was made available over the medium term for this process.

• Upgrade the cybersecurity website to interactive functionality which would be available by end of June 2016.

• Grow ICT SMMEs.

Chairperson, I have a good story to tell because:
The integration of the three entities has been completed. A business case and draft Bill were developed and the Minister shared its contents with the members of the Portfolio Committee. During this financial year we intend to table the iNeSI Bill to Cabinet to complete this process.

Through the work done by the National Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Cybersecurity Hub we have completed an Annual Report with various recommendations for the consideration of the Department.

Some of the recommendations focus on the promotion of cybersecurity research, development and innovation, and strengthening public-private partnerships based on complementary roles, common objectives and shared responsibilities.

An initial upgrade to the Cybersecurity Hub’s website was concluded in the last financial year, which included the ability for the public to report incidents and the provision of Awareness information.

The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill currently before Parliament will place obligations on both private and public sector organisations.

Continuing from the previous Financial Year, our focus this year will continue to be on those programmes and activities that:
• Adequately skill the SA Youth for the 4th industrial revolution;
• Strengthen our cyber resilience to withstand attacks and crisis;
• Bolster ICT SMMEs for economic inclusivity;
• Transforming the Universal Service Fund into the Digital Fund; and
• Strengthening of Digital economy

Adequately skilling the SA Youth for the 4th industrial revolution: Accelerate transformation of the sector for economic inclusivity and women empowerment.

 

Chairperson!
As I reflect on this role of ICTs, I am reminded that in the past few weeks, South Africa was shaken by the spate of gruesome attacks that engulfed our communities; where young women were raped, violently attacked and even murdered.

These atrocious attacks coincided with my reciprocal visit to China. During this visit we engaged on some of the interventions that government, utilising ICTs, should embark upon to build safer communities.

In this financial year, we will therefore rollout the following projects:
• Host an ICT EXPO to educate our communities on effectively utilising ICTs to protect themselves against violence and abuse; and
• Roadshows to empower women to protect themselves against abuse.

Chairperson,
To intensify and accelerate the e-skills programmes for the youth, NEMISA, (transforming to iNeSI) will coordinate all the activities of the various entities within our portfolio to ensure comprehensive e-skilling.

We hope this coordination will include the private sector in the long term. This is crucial to measure the impact and monitor progress for e-skills investment in the country, thus avoiding resource duplication.

The entity will further host the national e-Skills Summit this year. An amount of R49 million has been set aside for the e-skills programme and activities targeting the youth, women, SMMEs, people with disabilities in the eight (8) priority broadband districts and National Health Insurance (NHI) sites.

The e-skills training interventions will be scaled up across the country. The interventions planned for this year include the following:
• e-Skills4All and Cybersecurity  awareness;  
• eSkills4teachers;  
• Tech for Girls; 
• Mobile Tech for SMMEs;  
• Object Orientated Programming: Introduction and Advanced Course in Android Mobile App Development: This is the Train-the-trainer model, targeting the ICT Sector; and
• Social media and Film and TV production: Targeting the mobile broadcasting sector with a focus on “Online Video Editing”.

Further, in collaboration with local universities and the industry, Post Graduate courses such as Diploma in Software Development; Diploma in Business Analytics and Business Intelligence have been developed. This year will see the first intake of learners in these programmes.

In all these programmes, with the available resources, this year alone we are targeting five thousand and forty (5 040) learners

Chairperson,

During the commemoration of the International Girls in ICT Day, we launched the ICT innovation challenge. During this financial year, 50 girl-learners from the Eastern Cape will be trained on developing ICT innovations and upon completion, participate in a challenge to build their own innovation which will benefit their communities.

Through .zadna, female-led SMMEs will also be trained on website development and domain-name registrations.

 

Chairperson,
During the recent WEF Africa 2017, which took place in Durban, the Department announced South Africa’s adoption of the Internet for All which aims to bring millions of South Africans, especially those in rural areas, onto the internet for the first time through new models of public-private partnership and will focus on addressing the barriers that prevent universal internet access.

In order to achieve this, the department has forged partnerships with multinationals as follows:
• Google to train 1.1. million South Africans on digital skills. 80 000 have been trained thus far.
• IBM to train on digital skills 5 million young South Africans over a 5-year period as part of the 25 million across Africa;
• Microsoft providing training to 1 million people from Gauteng as well as building Africa’s 1st digital hub;
• Cisco connecting 50 schools with smart technology called “Spark Board”;
• Ericson deploying digital labs for schools in Mpumalanga, KZN and Northern Cape; and
• Funding from UK Department for International Development (DFID) estimated at 15 million pounds.

 

Bolster ICT SMMEs for economic inclusivity.

As we strive to attain the radical economic transformation, SMMEs are the bedrock of any economy in the developing country.

Consistent with the 9-point plan, the department has since 2014, been in the process to aggregate SMMEs in the ICT sector.

In this regard we have identified opportunities for the development of SMMEs and support interventions which we will be rolling out.

Additional to this, we have noted the various SMME initiatives managed by our entities which is aggregated to R20 million for this Financial Year. Through the SOC CSI Forum which is coordinated through my office, we will consolidate interventions and report on these initiatives.

Strengthen our cyber resilience to withstand attacks and crisis. Increasing cyber-security awareness.

Compatriots
Last week’s cyber-attacks demonstrated the degree to which we are all vulnerable to cyber-attacks, especially citizen/customer and government data. Therefore, there is a need to access and grow the limited cybersecurity skills base and awareness in our country.

For 2017, we envisage to obtain full international certification of the Hub. Progress has been made on upgrades to the Cybersecurity Hub’s policies, processes, infrastructure, and back-end systems, as this is a requirement in order to obtain this full international certification.

A national awareness strategy via the Hub’s website has been approved and is in the process of being developed.

To support this initiative we are going to host the Hackathon in October 2017 which is a youth oriented initiative to develop various Cybersecurity related apps and awareness.

 

Further, we are rolling out a Business Intelligence / Data Analytics pilot project whose main objective is to consolidate threats and incident information in order to analyse trends of incidents facing the country.

A survey to ascertain the state of Cybersecurity organisational readiness is currently underway, and the results will provide the first baseline understanding of Cybersecurity readiness across various sectors. This will assist in developing strategic interventions aimed at increasing the overall threat posture of the country.

 

Transforming the Universal Service Fund into the Digital Development Fund.

Chairperson
The Integrated ICT White Paper has proposed for the dissolution of the Universal and Access Fund and transform it into the Digital Fund. In effect, this will remove USAASA’s policy making and regulatory functions and instead focus on funding and access delivery to the nation.

We sincerely hope, that upon its establishment, the Digital Development Fund, will further help in the transformation of the sector as it will also fund SMMEs across the entire value chain of the sector.

Strengthening Digital Economy.

Chairperson
We will continue to ensure that rural communities in the under-serviced local municipalities have access to basic ICT services. Specifically USAASA will ensure access and provision of the following:
• Internet connectivity to public schools, tribal offices, primary health facilities and for the general community use within the municipalities;
• Availing broadband within local cafes, libraries and local businesses to activate local economic activities.

Following the commencement of broadband roll-out in 2016/17, USAASA plans to complete the entire OR Tambo District Municipality this financial year. The outstanding local municipalities are Nyandeni, Ngquza Hill and Port St Johns. Also targeted this financial year in KwaZulu Natal are Impendle Local Municipality and Umgungundlovu District Municipality. An amount of R29 869, 000 has been set aside for this particular purpose.

In terms of women development, we will engage with various stakeholders to train women-led start-ups from the OR Tambo District, on how to utilise the free Wi-Fi which has been rolled out in the district, to create economic spin-offs and work opportunities.

Support for Integrated ICT Policy White Paper.

Chairperson,
In conclusion let me highlight that in support of the White Paper we have drafted three strategies for public comment before finalization by Cabinet. These are:
• The e-Strategy or Digital Strategy for South Africa;
• The e-Government Strategy; and
• The ICT SMME Support Strategy.

Our work in this regard has been made easy by the councils and forums we have created, namely;
• The B-BBEE ICT Sector Council: One of the core tasks of this Council is to report on the progress of transformation in the ICT Sector. This financial year we intend to strengthen the support for the council to have more capacity to conduct research.
• The National ICT Forum: This is a platform involving leaders from government, industry, trade unions and civil society to engage on implementation of ICT policies and sectoral plans. The forum will continue to engage stakeholders on the implementation of the Integrated ICT White Paper.
• The National Broadband Advisory Council: We intend to revive this Council to assist with the implementation of Internet for All initiative and to focus more on 4th Industrial Revolution.
• The National Cybersecurity Advisory Council will continue to implement cybersecurity structures, research and development.

Looking ahead – Moving South Africa forward through a vibrant and diverse ICT Sector.

Honorable members!


I call upon all young people to empower themselves with ICT skills, irrespective of their field of study. Let us all develop a healthy relationship with ICTs and social media in order to empower ourselves and to network for developmental opportunities.

The 4th Industrial Revolution requires that each one must be ICT literate.
Before I sit down Chairperson, allow me to quote Moses Kotane who said

“Proper education is a mirror in which man sees the world around him and learns to understand it – the right kind of education enables man to see what the world has been, what it is, and how it can be changed to suit him or his way of living.

“We must learn Geography to know the universe, that there are other countries besides our own and to know the people of different nationalities inhabiting these countries.

“We must learn History to know and understand the story of man’s development through the ages – the various forms of social organization and the causes of the rise and fall of those forms of human relationships.

“We must learn Science…..” and in this I add ICTs.

Enkosi, Ke a leboga, Baie Dankie.

 

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