Between R60 to R89 billion would need to be invested to build a telecommunications broadband network throughout the country and to reduce connectivity costs, says Communications Minister Dina Pule.
Speaking at a press conference following her delivery of the communications budget vote speech in Parliament on Tuesday, Pule said that was the major reason why communications had to have a prime seat on the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission.
President Jacob Zuma heads this commission and its prime role will be to fast track up to R1 trillion worth of infrastructure build in various sectors including energy and transport.
Pule said that the Department of Communications had held a colloquium with information, communications and technology companies last month with the objective of reviewing the country’s policies that had not kept up to date with changes since 1999.
We need to build that ICT infrastructure, she said.
Pule said she was not happy with the slow pace of broadband roll out throughout the country.
Illustrative of this unhappiness was that only 2,000 out of a possible 27,000 government schools had been connected to the internet.
Even the 1,650 schools we have budgeted for this year is not enough, she said.
Pule also expressed here unhappiness that 125 of the special Dinaledi schools – those specifically earmarked to teach mathematics and science – still had been connected to the internet out of a total of 500 since the project was first launched seven years ago.
When I was Deputy Minister of Communications (in 2009) I was shocked to see then that 250 of these Dinaledi schools still had to be connected. We have reduced that number, but it is not enough, she said.
Pule said that Deputy Minister Susan Ndabeni was responsible for ensuring that the schools’ connectivity programme went ahead and that she was on a committee with the deputy ministers of basic education and public service and administration to co-ordinate rollout of connectivity to the schools.
Pule also thanked private companies for helping to connect the schools.