Minister of telecommunications and postal services Siyabonga Cwele says that his department will facilitate the establishment of 96 new ISPs in South Africa over the next three years.
This is part of the department’s plan to reduce the cost to communicate in South Africa by introducing more competition in to market.
“One of the main reasons we still have high costs is because the industry remains highly concentrated. We are unlikely to see aggressive competition if we don’t open up the sector to more and new entrants,” Cwele said.
The minister welcomed the progress made by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) on effective competition in the broadband market and the Competition Commission’s market inquiry into data services.
“These are necessary interventions, but the turnaround is slow compared to the public demand and need,” Cwele said.
Icasa is scheduled to release its findings by June 2018 which will indicate a list of markets that should be regulated and priority markets to be subjected to market reviews.
The Competition Commission is expected to release an interim report in April 2018 for public comment and a final report in August 2018.
The department said that it would boost its support for SMMEs in the ICT sector, and plans to set up Techlabs, which effectively function as mini innovation hubs.
Part of this strategy is to facilitate the establishment of the 96 new ISPs, prioritising youth and women, and to increase awareness and participation of SMMEs in e-commerce.
“E-commerce is where everybody is going. We need our SMMEs to participate in this space and develop their own e-commerce platform,” the department said.
It has further plans to facilitate and monitor the implementation of the minimum set-asides of 30% for procurement of services from SMMEs along the entire ICT value chain from the financial year, starting in April 2018.