“Government is both owner of Telkom and the regulator,” said Bekker. “So the policies are geared to maintain the Telkom position, and it prevents the market from being opened up. Consequently we’re just falling further and further behind on the Internet, regrettably.”
Bekker argued that you can’t have the same entity in charge of maintaining a very weak and declining asset [Telkom] and consequently keeping the South African market closed to protect it.
The Naspers CEO said that the situation can be resolved by allowing the Department of Communications to be the referee [hence the telecoms regulator], and passing the stake in Telkom to the department of Public Enterprises.
Bekker highlighted that South Africa’s poor Internet penetration, which he blames on government’s involvement in Telkom, is holding back e-commerce in South Africa and is hurting the economy as a whole.
“We have now fallen behind Kenya and Nigeria in Internet connections and it’s just going south, not a great position,” said Bekker.