Internet changes planned for South Africa – including lower data prices and 5G roll-out

 ·15 Dec 2020

Communications and Digital Technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams met with senior executives in her department this week to discuss a performance agreement that she has entered into with president Cyril Ramaphosa.

The agreement sets out a number of targets which Ndabeni-Abrahams is expected to meet within the next years when it comes to the access of internet services in South Africa.

The performance agreement with the president is legally binding and will be used for measuring the success of the department. Targets in the agreement include the following:

  • 80% of the population must have access to the internet by 2024;
  • Policy direction in relation to 5G must be issued by December 2021;
  • A reduction in the cost of data must be achieved;
  • Monitoring of Icasa and ensuring that the regulator is adequately resourced to license 4G spectrum;
  • Repositioning of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to drive the use of local technologies;
  • Completion of decoder rollout and switching-off analogue transmitters for the Broadcasting Digital Migration project by 2021, and rearranging of spectrum radio frequencies.

“There is an undertaking that the board chairpersons and CEOs of the respective entities will work closely to leverage on each other’s strengths and collaborate on key projects to avoid duplications.

“I must add that their commitment was quite encouraging,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

She added that government has embarked on a state-owned enterprises (SOE’s) rationalisation plan, which will see department embark on a process to merge some of its entities.

The state signal distributor SENTECH will be merged with Broadband Infraco to form one state broadband infrastructure company.

Domain name authority .Zadna, the Film and Publications Board, and ICASA will merge to form one regulator. The Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa will be repurposed to establish a state-owned digital fund company.

“These mergers are in line with president Ramaphosa’s announcement in this year’s State of the Nation Address that government will undertake a process of rationalisation of SOEs, to ensure that they serve strategic economic or developmental purposes,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.

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