Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says that every South African will be given access to the internet as a core utility.
In her state of the nation debate on Tuesday (15 February), Ntshavheni said that advancements in technology such as 5G and the planned release of valuable data spectrum will lead to the government offering ‘prescribed minimum data’ to the home.
“Data has become a new utility like water and electricity that our home needs. At some point, a South African household, despite whether they are rich or poor, will be given access to 10GB per month, because that is what the government will deliver,” she said.
The government has previously mooted giving free basic data to low-income users, similar to the stipends that it currently offers for water and electricity, in a national infrastructure plan published by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) in August.
The plan also states that high-speed broadband will be available and accessible in every community by 2023/24.
Non-profit group, Media Monitoring Africa, has argued that the need to communicate and access the internet has become a human right in South Africa.
Presenting to the Competition Commission at the end of 2020, the group said that the country’s laws should now be amended to reflect this importance
Media Monitoring Africa’s executive director, William Bird, said that failing to do so would effectively take the country back to apartheid.
He described access to the internet as a basic human right like water or shelter, which is enshrined in the Constitution. “You shouldn’t have to worry about data,” he said.