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The Telecommunication & Media Forum

telecommunication-media-forumSpeech by the Deputy Minister of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services,

Honourable Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize
During The Telecommunication & Media Forum
Johannesburg 2015
At Radisson Blue Hotel
08 December 2015


Theme: “Best practice policy and regulatory decision making to drive connectivity, accessibility, affordability and competitiveness in the global economy”

Novuyiso Batyi – Councillor, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA)
Fabio Colasanti – President, International Institute of Communications
Alison Gillwald (PhD) – Executive Director, Research ICT Africa
Pumla Radebe – Chairperson, Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA)
Thari G Pheko – Chief Executive & Ex-Officio Board Member, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA)
Envir Fraser – Chief Strategy Officer, Convergence Partners
Nkhensani Kubayi – Chairperson, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Service, South Africa
Shiletsi Makhofane – Vice President and Head of Government and Industry Relations, Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa
Mike Silber – Head Legal and Commercial, Liquid Telecoms
Loren Braithwaith Kabosha – Executive Director, South African Communications Forum (SACF)
Thari G Pheko – Chief Executive & Ex-Officio Board Member, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA)
George Sarpong – Executive Secretary, National Media Commission, Ghana
Mortimer Hope – Director Spectrum and Public Policy, Africa, GSMA
Dr Kas Kalba – Founder and CEO, Kalba International, Inc
Louis Onyango Otieno – Director, Microsoft 4Afrika, Microsoft
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good Morning


INTRODUCTION
Mr. President, Fabio Colasanti, allow me to express appreciation of your organisation’s leadership in creating such high-level platform whereby industry leaders, legislatures, policy makers and entrepreneurs come together to reflect on the practices and the future of our industry. Your vision fits well with our commitments to multilarism and we are very active at the ITU level and it’s many other sub-committees and regional structures. We hope that deliberations over these two days will help all of us to cement smart partnerships around strategic issues.
South Africa welcomed the adoption of the Agenda 2030, which includes 17 sustainable developmental goals (SDGs). While ICTs are not identified as a specific goal, it is referred to as the ghost goal, which underpins the achievement of all 17 goals. Information and communication technologies (ICTs), including access to internet, are key enablers of development and also are a catalyst for accelerating the outcomes of all three pillars of sustainable development, economic development, social inclusion and environmental protection.
From a policy point of view we are working on multiple interventions to ensure an inclusive access and affordability of the Internet. We are hard at work to rollout broadband to all areas including the most rural and poor areas guided by the study which we commissioned CSIR to conduct. Through the study, it was revealed that connectivity was dense in urban areas whereas in rural areas it was sparse. The major problem for rural areas was that there will either be no point of presence or if ever there, the problem will be last mile connectivity.
Our focus is on the whole ecosystem and not just on Infrastructure as the deployment of infrastructure alone will not translate into South Africa being globally competitive or translate into South Africa being an advanced information society. We have created iKamva National e-Skills Institute (iNeSI) to combat the challenges such as skills, relevant content, cybersecurity etc. to ensure that the ultimate goal is achieved. We are talking to multinationals emphasising that it cannot only be about them conducting business in our country but they must also put prominence on skilling our youthful population. The goal is for South Africa to have a globally competitive economy, to achieve this goal, we have to start at home but putting in place enabling policies that address the existing gaps that to a large degree stifle progress.
In partnership with other government role players we have addressed the rising threat of information theft and all sorts of abuse on line, by launching a Cybersecurity Hub, also referred to as a Computer Security and Incident Response Team (CSIRT) as mandated by the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework (NCPF).
Coming back to today’s session, the engagements are on: “Best practice policy and regulatory decision making to drive connectivity, accessibility, affordability and competitiveness in the global economy”. The Department of Telecommunications has seen the importance of best practice policy and regulatory decision making enabling the sector to function like a well-oiled machine. What was of key importance was that best practice in the fast moving technological revolution is to do regular policy reviews, ideally at least every five years to make sure that the objectives outlined in the policy are being implemented, and also to look at gaps and challenges as a result of the introduction of new technologies.

THE NATIONAL ICT POLICY REVIEW PROCESS
In 2012 Cabinet endorsed a review of all existing ICT related policies (telecommunications, broadcasting, postal services and e-commerce) in order to develop an integrated ICT related White Paper for South Africa. An ICT Policy Review Panel was appointed to assist government in that process. The scope of the Panel was to:
•    Review the functioning of the policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks for telecommunications, broadcasting, postal and e-commerce services in South Africa and assess their effectiveness in achieving appropriate policy objectives for the knowledge-based society.
•    Review the structure of the broadcasting, telecommunications, content, postal and ecommerce industries in South Africa, and the role of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and take into account the views and expectations of the public in general.
•    Determine policy goals and strategies for ICT research and development, applications development promotion, human capital development, investment in ICT markets for growth and development.
•    Propose universal service and universal access policy goals for South Africa, including methods of policy execution.
•    Propose ICT market regulation, and structures, institutional alignment for delivering universal access and universal service policy goals.

Through the ICT Policy Review process we have been able to keep abreast with the rapid technological changes such as digital inclusion, gender mainstreaming and financial inclusion.


TECHNOLOGICAL CONVERGENCE
The convergence of technologies has brought about a situation that makes it possible to use any infrastructure to deliver any communication service. A single infrastructure can be used to provide multiplicity of content or services, such as Television, Internet, radio, as well as deliver voice and video services.
Convergence of technology is of particular interest to us as policy makers and regulators as it enables technological systems to develop in a manner that allows them to perform multiple tasks with one device. This allows an operator who was licensed under one category to be able to provide services that would have required different category licences and it requires the change in the licencing regime.


The panel recommended that the objectives which must underpin policy in respect of convergence should be the following:
•    Promotion of technology and service neutrality: This allows for competition that benefits consumers, lowers the cost of infrastructure roll-out and enables the uptake of new technologies and innovation. It allows service operators to offer multiple services;
•    Ensure same treatment of content in all platforms: Access and distribution of content can be done using different platforms. For this to happen the acquisition, handling, distribution and provision of content should be regulated in an equivalent manner irrespective of the underlying media or platforms;
•    Remove bottlenecks and allow or the expansion of the market through entry of new players and services.

UNIVERSAL SERVICE AND ACCESS
In order to ensure that all South Africans have universal, affordable and equal access to communications infrastructure and services, Government has a responsibility to develop policies that seek to promote competition in the market. It is therefore critical that an effective market structure is created so as to address the current market dominance, which has a tendency to display anti-competitive behaviours that restrict competition in the market.
The ideal market structure would need to promote infrastructure sharing amongst all operators. For government to achieve this policy objective, we need to consider the adoption of an open access regime that would make it possible for all operators to connect to each other’s networks on a non-discriminatory basis.
This would facilitate realisation of universal access to quality communication infrastructure and services across all technology platforms, enabling economic growth, employment and wealth creation.


In the current era, the postal services sector is an important component of the economic sector in South Africa. The sector contributes approximately 3.16% to GDP. This includes courier and express parcel market. It is unfortunate that letter post is declining, both in terms of volume as well as the percentage of total revenue generated in the sector.
This has had an adverse effect on the viability and sustainability of the postal services sector. In view of this, policy would need to respond to the current postal sector challenges, including the future of the postal service, the postal market structure and the provision of universal services. Another key policy issue is the need to expand banking services to the currently unbanked citizens, particularly in rural areas.

REALISING DIGITAL SOCIETY
Over the past three decades, developments in the ICT sector have changed much of the world. The implementation of different strategies to make new technologies more widely available has transformed countries, societies and the activities of individuals.
This calls for flexible, people centred, rights-based policies, which must balance the need to promote innovation with that of protecting users. The implementation of e-services, including e-government, e-health, and e-education will propel a significant increase in the ownership of end-user equipment.
For government to realise the digital society goals, a greater coordination and alignment of strategies and policies pertaining to e-Government is required. Government also needs to improve areas of cooperation between citizens and business by creating efficient and appropriate digital platforms. This will enhance service delivery, whilst promoting open governance.


ICT INDUSTRY GROWTH
South Africa is a net importer of ICT products, has a low supply of relevant ICT skills and is serviced by industry which does not fully represent the demographics of the country. Moreover, the country lags behind in producing critical mass in ICT Research, Development and Innovation.
We have clear policy interventions that would address key economic development imperatives and transformation of the ICT sector; establishing proper investment policy, building research and development capacity, addressing skills gap, stimulating innovation and SMME growth. There is the Industrial Policy Action Plan which highlights the development of a specific support framework for black industrialists.


The IPAP 2015’s Black Industrialists Development Programme is aimed at promoting industrialisation, sustainable economic growth and transformation through the support of black- owned entities in the mainstream of the South African manufacturing industry and related manufacturing sectors.
Industrial Development Zones targeting manufacturing – the idea is to link institutions of higher learning such as the Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) Colleges with the industry, providing students with work experience training.


SOUTH AFRICA CONNECT – NATIONAL BROADBAND POLICY
Coming back to broadband rollout, South Africa has South Africa Connect which is the National broadband policy. The policy takes its mandate from numerous pieces of legislations to enforce economic growth.
Policy Context for South Africa Connect
Our Constitution encourages us to “… improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person”
The National Development Plan envisages that by 2030 the ICT sector will underpin the development of a dynamic and connected information society and a vibrant knowledge economy that is more inclusive and prosperous.


Strategic Integrated Project 15 talks about Expanding Access to Communication Technology “to ensure universal service and access to reliable, affordable and secure broadband services by all South Africans… prioritising rural and under-serviced areas…stimulating economic growth.’’
One of the job creation drivers identified as part of the New Growth Path, the national 5-year economic plan for the country, is the element of the knowledge economy – an economy that is underpinned by access to affordable high speed broadband…
Government has set out a compelling vision for broadband in South Africa through the SA CONNECT Policy. The policy has the following objectives:
•    Affordable, ubiquitous broadband – to meet the diverse needs of public and private users, formal and informal business, and consumers and citizens
•    Policy and regulatory conditions that enable investment by public and private sector
•    Efficient public sector delivery, including e-government services (national, provincial and local)
•    Fully exploitable broadband efficiencies by public and private enterprise (formal and informal)
•    Strong national skills base developed for the country
•    Create an environment for a vibrant creative and software industry – producing content and applications relevant to meet diverse needs of SA users

Four Strategic Pillars of South Africa Connect
Digital Readiness – Enabling policy & regulatory frameworks; institutional capacity
Digital Development – Public sector demand aggregation to address critical gaps
Digital Future – National Broadband Network
Digital Opportunity – Demand Stimulation

TELKOM AS A LEAD ENTITY
Government has five ICT SOEs and these are: Telkom, Broadband Infraco, Sentech, SITA and USAASA involved in broadband across the broadband value chain with overlapping mandates, duplication of infrastructure and often competing against each other. In line with the recommendations of the Presidential Review Commission on State Owned Entities, Government has taken a decision to rationalize these entities to create an open access national broadband network.
During the State of the Nation Address earlier this year, President Zuma pronounced that Government has decided to designate Telkom as the Lead Agency to assist with the Broadband rollout. Telkom is designated to lead the coordination of these SOCs in order to leverage and efficiently use the state’s assets and investments. Government will derive value from the Partnership with Telkom from different fronts, i.e.: Expedited roll-out, Facilitate competition and Policy objectives
Telkom is offering a network platform that is robust, future proof, high Quality of Service (QoS), and scalable, leveraging available network infrastructure, to connect 50% of government facilities by end of 2016 and 80% by 2019 to 10Megabit per second. The migration of current services with lower speeds to the higher speeds.
Telkom is also offering Government a special average rate of 47% discount on wholesale price when compared with similar solutions offered by Telkom to its wholesale customer base. Uncapped basic internet through a managed offering that will include a dedicated contact centre to monitor and resolve service disruptions. Cost based wholesale price with a negotiated special rate for government that is below any market offer. Contracted network and services availability with penalties for failure to honour the contract terms.


GOVERNMENT’S APPROACH TO BROADBAND ROLLOUT
This first Phase focuses on provision of Broadband connection services in 8 districts where the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme is being piloted. The second Phase will focus on providing broadband connection services in the remaining 44 districts. The project will deliver the connectivity services via available technologies in line with the SA Connect Policy objectives. Government broadband services demand will be aggregated to stimulate the rollout of infrastructure to rural areas i.e. Government will procure services and fund infrastructure extensions.


REDUCING THE COST TO COMMUNICATE
Policy and regulation primarily identify the markets that might potentially fail and where intervention is crucial. When a regulator deems a market to be important in this regard, it applies market assessment tools to test for the dominance of players within that market, examines what can be done to enhance the level of competition inside, and looks at how consumer’s interest can be further safeguarded in the market. Hence most regulatory tools and remedies are derived from understanding and adopting a definition of which markets matter.


The high cost of communication is one of the major impediments towards achieving full potential value of ICT in social and economic development for the country.  Whilst national roaming is instrumental in achieving universal access obligations since mobile operators can complement each other where the other does not have coverage, there seems to be high costs associated with roaming that contributes to the high cost of communication. The National Development Plan 2030 and MTSF has identified the program of reducing the high cost of communication as critical and require urgent attention.


Earlier this year the department has commissioned a study on national roaming to make recommendations on whether national roaming regulation is necessary and whether national roaming regulation can enhance government’s policy objectives including the reduction of the cost to communicate, facilitate market entry and growth of new entrants, increase coverage of rural and under-serviced areas, increasing competition, improve quality of services provided to consumers and infrastructure sharing.

Programme of Action (PoA) To Address High Cost of Telecommunication Services
The Department developed a programme of action (POA) to address the high cost of telecommunication services in 2009. One of the interventions was the reduction of mobile termination rates (MTRs), the rates operators charge each other for terminating calls on their networks, since these costs were very high and negatively affecting retail prices.

Policy Directive on the Review of Competition in the Market
The department issued a policy direction to ICASA to enable ICASA to initiate a market review process on the effectiveness of competition within different segment of the broadband value chain in order to impose regulatory intervention where the markets are uncompetitive. The aim of the policy direction was to enforce effective competition in the markets where Significant Market Power of licensees was dominant and therefore positioned to contribute to the high cost of data.  
Call Termination Regulations


Having drawn credible evidence on the extent of the market failure in the telecommunications services market in South Africa, ICASA went through all the prescribed procedures and issued the ‘Call Termination Regulations’ by Government Gazette notice number 1015 of 2010 and imposed pro-competitive measures on the markets for mobile and fixed wholesale call termination services in the Republic of South Africa from the 2011 to March 2014. Subsequently in 2014 Government Gazette 844 of 2014 published new set of call termination regulations.

Rapid Deployment Policy
The greatest barrier to fibre deployment involves capital costs, transit costs and difficulties in gaining municipal approvals and access to rights of way are also impediments. Chapter 4 sections 21 of the ECA obliges the Minister to,
“…in consultation with the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs [now two separate departments], the Authority [meaning ICASA] and other relevant institutions, develop a policy and policy directions for the rapid deployment and provisioning of electronic communications facilities,  following which the Authority must prescribe regulations.”
In this regard the department has developed draft policy on rapid deployment of Electronic Communications services as required by the ECA, following extensive consultation with stakeholders. The main objective of the policy is to amongst others overcome barriers to access broadband infrastructure and ensure delivery, access and affordability of broadband services.   


CONCLUSION
In conclusion, I will like to stress the importance of having broadband and its associated services in our country:
•    Increasing broadband availability and penetration could have an accelerating factor on the SA economy resulting in GDP growth
•    The accelerated GDP growth is driven by creation of ICT infrastructure, technology-driven productivity gains, growing employment (direct and indirect), and increasing consumer surplus (which represents benefits in terms of enhanced access to information, entertainment and public services)
•    Broadband impact on GDP in OECD countries increases as its overall penetration increases
    High penetration countries (over 30%) : 1% increase in broadband  = 0.02% GDP growth;
    Medium penetration countries (20% - 30%) : 1% increase in broadband  = 0.014% GDP growth;
    Low penetration countries (below 30%) : 1% increase in broadband  = 0.008% GDP growth;
•    As a continent we are striving to accelerate broadband penetration pathways with a clear agenda of radical economic transformation and inclusion.

I thank you.

 

approved-logo

Speech by the Deputy Minister of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Honourable Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize

During The Telecommunication & Media Forum

Johannesburg 2015

At

Radisson Blue Hotel

08 December 2015

Theme: “Best practice policy and regulatory decision making to drive connectivity, accessibility, affordability and competitiveness in the global economy”

 

 

 

Novuyiso Batyi – Councillor, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA)

Fabio Colasanti – President, International Institute of Communications

Alison Gillwald (PhD) – Executive Director, Research ICT Africa

Pumla Radebe – Chairperson, Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA)

Thari G Pheko – Chief Executive & Ex-Officio Board Member,Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA)

Envir Fraser – Chief Strategy Officer,Convergence Partners

Nkhensani Kubayi – Chairperson,Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Service, South Africa

Shiletsi Makhofane – Vice President and Head of Government and Industry Relations, Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa

Mike Silber – Head Legal and Commercial, Liquid Telecoms

Loren Braithwaith Kabosha – Executive Director,South African Communications Forum (SACF)
Thari G Pheko –
Chief Executive & Ex-Officio Board Member,Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA)

George Sarpong – Executive Secretary, National Media Commission, Ghana

Mortimer Hope – Director Spectrum and Public Policy, Africa, GSMA

Dr Kas Kalba – Founder and CEO, Kalba International, Inc

Louis Onyango Otieno – Director, Microsoft 4Afrika, Microsoft

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Mr. President, Fabio Colasanti, allow me to express appreciation of your organisation’s leadership in creating such high-level platform whereby industry leaders, legislatures, policy makers and entrepreneurs come together to reflect on the practices and the future of our industry. Your vision fits well with our commitments to multilarism and we are very active at the ITU level and it’s many other sub-committees and regional structures. We hope that deliberations over these two days will help all of us to cement smart partnerships around strategic issues.

South Africa welcomed the adoption of the Agenda 2030, which includes 17 sustainable developmental goals (SDGs). While ICTs are not identified as a specific goal, it is referred to as the ghost goal, which underpins the achievement of all 17 goals. Information and communication technologies (ICTs), including access to internet, are key enablers of development and also are a catalyst for accelerating the outcomes of all three pillars of sustainable development, economic development, social inclusion and environmental protection.

From a policy point of view we are working on multiple interventions to ensure an inclusive access and affordability of the Internet. We are hard at work to rollout broadband to all areas including the most rural and poor areas guided by the study which we commissioned CSIR to conduct. Through the study, it was revealed that connectivity was dense in urban areas whereas in rural areas it was sparse. The major problem for rural areas was that there will either be no point of presence or if ever there, the problem will be last mile connectivity.

Our focus is on the whole ecosystem and not just on Infrastructure as the deployment of infrastructure alone will not translate into South Africa being globally competitive or translate into South Africa being an advanced information society. We have created iKamva National e-Skills Institute (iNeSI) to combat the challenges such as skills, relevant content, cybersecurity etc. to ensure that the ultimate goal is achieved. We are talking to multinationals emphasising that it cannot only be about them conducting business in our country but they must also put prominence on skilling our youthful population. The goal is for South Africa to have a globally competitive economy, to achieve this goal, we have to start at home but putting in place enabling policies that address the existing gaps that to a large degree stifle progress.

In partnership with other government role players we have addressed the rising threat of information theft and all sorts of abuse on line, by launching a Cybersecurity Hub, also referred to as a Computer Security and Incident Response Team (CSIRT) as mandated by the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework (NCPF).

Coming back to today’s session, the engagements are on: “Best practice policy and regulatory decision making to drive connectivity, accessibility, affordability and competitiveness in the global economy”. The Department of Telecommunications has seen the importance of best practice policy and regulatory decision making enabling the sector to function like a well-oiled machine. What was of key importance was that best practice in the fast moving technological revolution is to do regular policy reviews, ideally at least every five years to make sure that the objectives outlined in the policy are being implemented, and also to look at gaps and challenges as a result of the introduction of new technologies.

 

THE NATIONAL ICT POLICY REVIEW PROCESS

In 2012 Cabinet endorsed a review of all existing ICT related policies (telecommunications, broadcasting, postal services and e-commerce) in order to develop an integrated ICT related White Paper for South Africa. An ICT Policy Review Panel was appointed to assist government in that process. The scope of the Panel was to:

·        Review the functioning of the policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks for telecommunications, broadcasting, postal and e-commerce services in South Africa and assess their effectiveness in achieving appropriate policy objectives for the knowledge-based society.

·        Review the structure of the broadcasting, telecommunications, content, postal and ecommerce industries in South Africa, and the role of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and take into account the views and expectations of the public in general.

·        Determine policy goals and strategies for ICT research and development, applications development promotion, human capital development, investment in ICT markets for growth and development.

·        Propose universal service and universal access policy goals for South Africa, including methods of policy execution.

·        Propose ICT market regulation, and structures, institutional alignment for delivering universal access and universal service policy goals.

 

Through the ICT Policy Review process we have been able to keep abreast with the rapid technological changes such as digital inclusion, gender mainstreaming and financial inclusion.

TECHNOLOGICAL CONVERGENCE

The convergence of technologies has brought about a situation that makes it possible to use any infrastructure to deliver any communication service. A single infrastructure can be used to provide multiplicity of content or services, such as Television, Internet, radio, as well as deliver voice and video services.

Convergence of technology is of particular interest to us as policy makers and regulators as it enables technological systems to develop in a manner that allows them to perform multiple tasks with one device. This allows an operator who was licensed under one category to be able to provide services that would have required different category licences and it requires the change in the licencing regime.

The panel recommended that the objectives which must underpin policy in respect of convergence should be the following:

·        Promotion of technology and service neutrality: This allows for competition that benefits consumers, lowers the cost of infrastructure roll-out and enables the uptake of new technologies and innovation. It allows service operators to offer multiple services;

·        Ensure same treatment of content in all platforms: Access and distribution of content can be done using different platforms. For this to happen the acquisition, handling, distribution and provision of content should be regulated in an equivalent manner irrespective of the underlying media or platforms;

·        Remove bottlenecks and allow or the expansion of the market through entry of new players and services.

 

UNIVERSAL SERVICE AND ACCESS

In order to ensure that all South Africans have universal, affordable and equal access to communications infrastructure and services, Government has a responsibility to develop policies that seek to promote competition in the market. It is therefore critical that an effective market structure is created so as to address the current market dominance, which has a tendency to display anti-competitive behaviours that restrict competition in the market.

The ideal market structure would need to promote infrastructure sharing amongst all operators. For government to achieve this policy objective, we need to consider the adoption of an open access regime that would make it possible for all operators to connect to each other’s networks on a non-discriminatory basis.

This would facilitate realisation of universal access to quality communication infrastructure and services across all technology platforms, enabling economic growth, employment and wealth creation.

In the current era, the postal services sector is an important component of the economic sector in South Africa. The sector contributes approximately 3.16% to GDP. This includes courier and express parcel market. It is unfortunate that letter post is declining, both in terms of volume as well as the percentage of total revenue generated in the sector.

This has had an adverse effect on the viability and sustainability of the postal services sector. In view of this, policy would need to respond to the current postal sector challenges, including the future of the postal service, the postal market structure and the provision of universal services. Another key policy issue is the need to expand banking services to the currently unbanked citizens, particularly in rural areas.

 

REALISING DIGITAL SOCIETY

Over the past three decades, developments in the ICT sector have changed much of the world. The implementation of different strategies to make new technologies more widely available has transformed countries, societies and the activities of individuals.

This calls for flexible, people centred, rights-based policies, which must balance the need to promote innovation with that of protecting users. The implementation of e-services, including e-government, e-health, and e-education will propel a significant increase in the ownership of end-user equipment.

For government to realise the digital society goals, a greater coordination and alignment of strategies and policies pertaining to e-Government is required. Government also needs to improve areas of cooperation between citizens and business by creating efficient and appropriate digital platforms. This will enhance service delivery, whilst promoting open governance.

ICT INDUSTRY GROWTH

South Africa is a net importer of ICT products, has a low supply of relevant ICT skills and is serviced by industry which does not fully represent the demographics of the country. Moreover, the country lags behind in producing critical mass in ICT Research, Development and Innovation.

We have clear policy interventions that would address key economic development imperatives and transformation of the ICT sector; establishing proper investment policy, building research and development capacity, addressing skills gap, stimulating innovation and SMME growth. There is the Industrial Policy Action Plan which highlights the development of a specific support framework for black industrialists.

The IPAP 2015’s Black Industrialists Development Programme is aimed at promoting industrialisation, sustainable economic growth and transformation through the support of black- owned entities in the mainstream of the South African manufacturing industry and related manufacturing sectors.

Industrial Development Zones targeting manufacturing – the idea is to link institutions of higher learning such as the Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) Colleges with the industry, providing students with work experience training.

SOUTH AFRICA CONNECT – NATIONAL BROADBAND POLICY

Coming back to broadband rollout, South Africa has South Africa Connect which is the National broadband policy. The policy takes its mandate from numerous pieces of legislations to enforce economic growth.

Policy Context for South Africa Connect

Our Constitution encourages us to “… improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person”

The National Development Plan envisages that by 2030 the ICT sector will underpin the development of a dynamic and connected information society and a vibrant knowledge economy that is more inclusive and prosperous.

Strategic Integrated Project 15 talks about Expanding Access to Communication Technology “to ensure universal service and access to reliable, affordable and secure broadband services by all South Africans… prioritising rural and under-serviced areas…stimulating economic growth.’’

One of the job creation drivers identified as part of the New Growth Path, the national 5-year economic plan for the country, is the element of the knowledge economy – an economy that is underpinned by access to affordable high speed broadband…

Government has set out a compelling vision for broadband in South Africa through the SA CONNECT Policy. The policy has the following objectives:

·        Affordable, ubiquitous broadband – to meet the diverse needs of public and private users, formal and informal business, and consumers and citizens

·        Policy and regulatory conditions that enable investment by public and private sector

·        Efficient public sector delivery, including e-government services (national, provincial and local)

·        Fully exploitable broadband efficiencies by public and private enterprise (formal and informal)

·        Strong national skills base developed for the country

·        Create an environment for a vibrant creative and software industry – producing content and applications relevant to meet diverse needs of SA users

 

Four Strategic Pillars of South Africa Connect

Digital Readiness – Enabling policy & regulatory frameworks; institutional capacity

Digital Development Public sector demand aggregation to address critical gaps

Digital Future – National Broadband Network

Digital Opportunity – Demand Stimulation

 

TELKOM AS A LEAD ENTITY

Government has five ICT SOEs and these are: Telkom, Broadband Infraco, Sentech, SITA and USAASA involved in broadband across the broadband value chain with overlapping mandates, duplication of infrastructure and often competing against each other. In line with the recommendations of the Presidential Review Commission on State Owned Entities, Government has taken a decision to rationalize these entities to create an open access national broadband network.

During the State of the Nation Address earlier this year, President Zuma pronounced that Government has decided to designate Telkom as the Lead Agency to assist with the Broadband rollout. Telkom is designated to lead the coordination of these SOCs in order to leverage and efficiently use the state’s assets and investments. Government will derive value from the Partnership with Telkom from different fronts, i.e.: Expedited roll-out, Facilitate competition and Policy objectives

Telkom is offering a network platform that is robust, future proof, high Quality of Service (QoS), and scalable, leveraging available network infrastructure, to connect 50% of government facilities by end of 2016 and 80% by 2019 to 10Megabit per second. The migration of current services with lower speeds to the higher speeds.

Telkom is also offering Government a special average rate of 47% discount on wholesale price when compared with similar solutions offered by Telkom to its wholesale customer base. Uncapped basic internet through a managed offering that will include a dedicated contact centre to monitor and resolve service disruptions. Cost based wholesale price with a negotiated special rate for government that is below any market offer. Contracted network and services availability with penalties for failure to honour the contract terms.

GOVERNMENT’S APPROACH TO BROADBAND ROLLOUT

This first Phase focuses on provision of Broadband connection services in 8 districts where the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme is being piloted. The second Phase will focus on providing broadband connection services in the remaining 44 districts. The project will deliver the connectivity services via available technologies in line with the SA Connect Policy objectives. Government broadband services demand will be aggregated to stimulate the rollout of infrastructure to rural areas i.e. Government will procure services and fund infrastructure extensions.

REDUCING THE COST TO COMMUNICATE

Policy and regulation primarily identify the markets that might potentially fail and where intervention is crucial. When a regulator deems a market to be important in this regard, it applies market assessment tools to test for the dominance of players within that market, examines what can be done to enhance the level of competition inside, and looks at how consumer’s interest can be further safeguarded in the market. Hence most regulatory tools and remedies are derived from understanding and adopting a definition of which markets matter.

The high cost of communication is one of the major impediments towards achieving full potential value of ICT in social and economic development for the country.  Whilst national roaming is instrumental in achieving universal access obligations since mobile operators can complement each other where the other does not have coverage, there seems to be high costs associated with roaming that contributes to the high cost of communication. The National Development Plan 2030 and MTSF has identified the program of reducing the high cost of communication as critical and require urgent attention.

Earlier this year the department has commissioned a study on national roaming to make recommendations on whether national roaming regulation is necessary and whether national roaming regulation can enhance government’s policy objectives including the reduction of the cost to communicate, facilitate market entry and growth of new entrants, increase coverage of rural and under-serviced areas, increasing competition, improve quality of services provided to consumers and infrastructure sharing.

 

Programme of Action (PoA) To Address High Cost of Telecommunication Services

The Department developed a programme of action (POA) to address the high cost of telecommunication services in 2009. One of the interventions was the reduction of mobile termination rates (MTRs), the rates operators charge each other for terminating calls on their networks, since these costs were very high and negatively affecting retail prices.

 

Policy Directive on the Review of Competition in the Market

The department issued a policy direction to ICASA to enable ICASA to initiate a market review process on the effectiveness of competition within different segment of the broadband value chain in order to impose regulatory intervention where the markets are uncompetitive. The aim of the policy direction was to enforce effective competition in the markets where Significant Market Power of licensees was dominant and therefore positioned to contribute to the high cost of data.  

Call Termination Regulations

Having drawn credible evidence on the extent of the market failure in the telecommunications services market in South Africa, ICASA went through all the prescribed procedures and issued the ‘Call Termination Regulations’ by Government Gazette notice number 1015 of 2010 and imposed pro-competitive measures on the markets for mobile and fixed wholesale call termination services in the Republic of South Africa from the 2011 to March 2014. Subsequently in 2014 Government Gazette 844 of 2014 published new set of call termination regulations.

 

Rapid Deployment Policy

The greatest barrier to fibre deployment involves capital costs, transit costs and difficulties in gaining municipal approvals and access to rights of way are also impediments. Chapter 4 sections 21 of the ECA obliges the Minister to,

“…in consultation with the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs [now two separate departments], the Authority [meaning ICASA] and other relevant institutions, develop a policy and policy directions for the rapid deployment and provisioning of electronic communications facilities,[i] following which the Authority must prescribe regulations.”

In this regard the department has developed draft policy on rapid deployment of Electronic Communications services as required by the ECA, following extensive consultation with stakeholders. The main objective of the policy is to amongst others overcome barriers to access broadband infrastructure and ensure delivery, access and affordability of broadband services.   

 

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I will like to stress the importance of having broadband and its associated services in our country:

·        Increasing broadband availability and penetration could have an accelerating factor on the SA economy resulting in GDP growth

·        The accelerated GDP growth is driven by creation of ICT infrastructure, technology-driven productivity gains, growing employment (direct and indirect), and increasing consumer surplus (which represents benefits in terms of enhanced access to information, entertainment and public services)

·        Broadband impact on GDP in OECD countries increases as its overall penetration increases

q High penetration countries (over 30%) : 1% increase in broadband  = 0.02% GDP growth;

q Medium penetration countries (20% - 30%) : 1% increase in broadband  = 0.014% GDP growth;

q Low penetration countries (below 30%) : 1% increase in broadband  = 0.008% GDP growth;

·        As a continent we are striving to accelerate broadband penetration pathways with a clear agenda of radical economic transformation and inclusion.

 

I thank you.



 

Minister Cwele visits Setsheng High as part of the "Back to School" Campaign

Cwele-setshengMinister Cwele marks homework from the first day of school at the Setsheng High School in Balfour, Mpumlanga. Minister Cwele cautioned learners that employment was difficult without education. He advised learners to listen to their teachers and to always ask questions if they did not understand. Minister Cwele said he came to the Setsheng High School to encourage learners and that he was happy that the schooling year had started well.

Subcategories

Here you will find all the Speeches made by the Minister of Telecommunications & Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, while in office.

Here you will find all the Speeches made by the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications & Postal Services, Prof Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize, while in office.

In here, you will find all the Media Statements issued by the Department of Communications and Announcements from the Department of Communications Press Office

The daily events planned for the The Department of Communications

In here you will find Photos/Galleries of events for the Department of Communications

This is a repository for speeches made my former Ministers and Deputy Ministers of the Department.