Government wants a new state-owned company in South Africa – to focus on data and networking

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies has published its draft national data and cloud policy, which proposes moving most of the government’s data online.

The policy seeks to ‘strengthen the capacity’ of the state to deliver services to its citizens, ensure informed policy development based on data analytics, as well as promote South Africa’s data sovereignty and the security thereof, the department said.

This will include the consolidation of existing data-focused state-owned enterprises such as Sentech and Broadband Infraco, as well as the establishment of a new state infrastructure company, it said.

This will be known as the State Digital Infrastructure Company (SDIC), and it will have access to the excess capacity of government-funded ICT infrastructure through Eskom, Sanral, Transnet, Prasa, and the South African National Research Network.

A new centre

The draft policy also states that government intends to build a High-Performance Computing and Data Processing Centre (HPCDPC) which will include processing, data facilities, and cloud computing capacity – and will consolidate existing public-funded data centres.

It will provide use-on-demand cloud services for state entities, national departments, provinces, municipalities, metros, SOEs, universities, research centres, civil society organisations, and businesses.

“The HPCDPC will leverage the existing computing capacity and technical capabilities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and SITA and will operate in conformance with international best practice.

“The HPCDPC shall have access to the excess capacity of public funded data centres of entities such as Sentech and Broadband Infraco, Eskom and Transnet.”

The connectivity and interconnection of the HPCDPC to all other public datacentres will be provided by the new SDIC.

The draft policy states that the HPCDPC will be replicated with two similar centres to ensure the availability of backup and business continuity in instances where the main centre comes under cyberattack.

Other proposals 

Other proposals included in the draft policy are:

  • Digital/ICT Special Economic Zones (SEZs) shall be established to support local and foreign investment in data and cloud infrastructure and services. Multinational firms investing in data centres shall be required to make provision for skills and digital technology transfer to ensure benefits and gains from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
  • Data centres may make provision for self-generation energy capabilities to ensure uninterrupted and sustainable operations while reducing total dependence on the strained national electricity grid.
  • To support SMMEs in the digital economy, strategies and interventions(such as digital hubs and digital transformation centres, supported by open compute and open software) shall be adopted by SITA to enable locally developed applications through collaboration between relevant government departments, agencies, academia and SMMEs.
  • Investment in data centres and cloud services shall comply with the provisions of broad-based black economic empowerment.

Read: Amazon Web Services now offers an ‘intensive’ one-year training course in South Africa – here’s how to apply

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Government wants a new state-owned company in South Africa – to focus on data and networking