Cwele promises digital migration and SA Connect Broadband in 2018

The department of telecommunications has released its annual report for the 2016/2017, detailing its operations over the past year as well as its plans for the future.

The department’s revenue comprised mainly dividends received from Telkom – a total of R8.3 billion, well above initial estimates of R5.8 billion.

The decrease in interest, dividends and rent on land was a result of the sale of Vodacom shares by the department, while the over-collection of dividends was a result of an underestimation by the department, it said.

In contrast, the department also under-spent on its initial estimates.

The total adjusted appropriation baseline allocation  was set at R2.417 billion for the 2016/17 financial year. Of the total allocation, transfers and subsidies amounted to R1.057 billion or 44% of the total budget.

“These transfers were mainly to departmental agencies and accounts, as well as allocations for digital broadcasting migration. Payment for Financial Assets amounted to R650 million or 27% of the available budget and it was allocated for the purposes of recapitalisation of the South African Post Office (SAPO).

“The under-spending was mainly on goods and services – R327.9 million. This was largely caused by the delay in implementing the SA Connect Broadband project,” it said.

The department also spent just R16,000 on unauthorised/wasteful expenditure – R8,000 for traffic fines and R8,000 for “no shows”, both of which it hopes to reduce.


Looking forward 

Despite improved financial results, arguably the biggest shadow hanging over South Africa’s telecommunications department are its failures to implement a number of promised programmes – something minister Siyabonga Cwele alluded to multiple times in the report.

This was highlighted by two major sticking points – the continued failure to implement digital TV migration in South Africa, as well as a failure to begin implementing the first phase of the South Africa Connect programme in the eight identified pilot districts.

Cwele promised that both projects will begin implementation in earnest by 2018, with digital migration receiving the High Court’s blessing earlier this year.

Cwele said that he will use state entities to implement the SA Connect programme after the repeated failings of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to embark on an open tender process.

2018 will also see the corporatisation of the PostBank, which was identified as a critical element of economic development and financial inclusion – particularly for availability and access to financial services to the under-serviced areas and the unbanked population in the country.

Less clear are the department’s plan for e-government services and small businesses, although Cwele indicated that he will prioritise both services in the coming year.

You can read the full report here.

Read: Government looking to merge state telcos into single broadband company

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Cwele promises digital migration and SA Connect Broadband in 2018