President Jacob Zuma only glanced over the telecommunications services and broadband sector in delivering his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday (14 February 2013).
“Last year, the private and public sector laid about 7000 new fibre optic cables. The plan is to achieve 100% broadband internet penetration by 2020,” he said fleetingly.
In 2012 Zuma also largely ignored the telecommunications sector, but did hint at investments in ‘information and communication technologies’ in five “major geographically-focussed programmes”.
On Thursday, however, the president did highlight the need to create jobs.
“Our GDP growth is expected to average at 2.5% cent, down from 3.1% in the previous year. We need growth rates in excess of five per cent to create more jobs.
“The National Development Plan outlines interventions that can put the economy on a better footing. The target for job creation is set at 11 million by 2030 and the economy needs to grow threefold to create the desired jobs,” he said.
President Zuma also noted that additional mechanisms to protect women from harassment through “electronic communications” are in the works, in the form of the Protection from Harassment Bill.
“While the Domestic Violence Act also provides protection, it only applies to persons who are in a domestic relationship,” the president said.
“The Protection from Harassment Bill also deals with harassment by persons who stalk their victims by means of electronic communications,” he said.
Missed broadband and telecoms promises
In his first State of the Nation Address (2009) Zuma said that Government “will ensure that the cost of telecommunications is reduced through the projects underway to expand broadband capacity.”
In 2010 Zuma focused on broadband, highlighting that government was working to reduce the cost to communicate, adding that cheaper and faster broadband services are also on the cards.
To date not much has happened to deliver on the broadband promises. In October 2012 the National Treasury further indicated that the communications department made no progress on meeting its broadband penetration targets.
According to the treasury’s report the DoC achieved 0% (zero percent) of its 7% target for the “percentage of broadband penetration per year”.
New communications minister Dina Pule is however still punting a 100% broadband penetration rate by 2020 in South Africa although concrete plans as to how this will be achieved remain sketchy.