Massive Department of Communications overhaul – here’s what you need to know

Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has announced that ZADNA, ICASA, and the FPB will be merged.

Ndabeni-Abrahams was speaking at a press conference about the department’s digital transformation plan for South Africa when she made the announcement.

The communications department is developing a model for “smart regulation” in the country, which will see the three regulatory bodies amalgamated.

Ndabeni-Abrahams added that they will also explore new funding mechanisms for the “new regulator”.

The merging of the three organisations will ostensibly see the following functions falling under one roof:

  • ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa): The regulation of the South African communications, broadcasting, and postal services sectors.
  • FPB (Film and Publication Board): The regulation of films, games, and certain publications through classification.
  • ZADNA (.za Domain Name Authority): The management and regulation of the .za namespace.

Sentech and Broadband Infraco merger

This was not the only merger discussed by Ndabeni-Abrahams, however.

Ndabeni-Abrahams announced that state-owned companies Sentech and Broadband Infraco will be merged to form the “state digital infrastructure company”.

Currently, Sentech handles certain signal distribution and digital content delivery services in South Africa, while Broadband Infraco is responsible for rolling out the government’s broadband networks.

The minister added that her department is also “engaging” with Sanral, Prasa, Eskom, and Transnet to ensure they do not enter the commercial broadband market.

These entities currently self-provide connectivity services, said the minister.


SITA

SITA is another organisation which will undergo changes, stated the minister.

SITA – the State Information Technology Agency – will become a “digital transformation agency”, and will no longer act as only a procurement agency.

An administrator will be appointed for a period of 24 months to oversee this transformation.


More plans

Ndabeni-Abrahams went on to talk at length about the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” in South Africa and the government’s plan to ensure the country benefits from this.

The minister said this will see the government continuing to focus on the licensing of high-demand spectrum for mobile operators – adding that ICASA has issued an information memorandum on the allocations.

Reducing the cost to communicate is also on their agenda, with a focus on reducing the price of mobile data for citizens.

Accompanying this is a renewed focus on the national digital TV migration project, which is several years behind schedule.


Read: How forcing networks to cut data prices could make the mobile market worse

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Massive Department of Communications overhaul – here’s what you need to know