President Jacob Zuma has delivered his State of the Nation Address, saying that the government will fast track the implementation of the first phase of broadband roll-out to connect more than five thousand government facilities in eight district municipalities over a three year period.
Zuma added that funding to the tune of R740 million over a three year period has been allocated in this regard.
This follows his announcement in last year’s SONA that 2015 will mark the beginning of the first phase of the broadband roll-out, where the government would connect offices in 8 district municipalities.
He also announced in 2015 that the government had decided to designate Telkom as the lead agency to assist with the roll-out.
Promises regarding broadband are not new. Since he took office in 2009, Zuma has often highlighted the value of affordable broadband and telecommunications services in South Africa.
Zuma said in his February 2014 SONA that “wealth is created through the Internet or telecommunication”.
“37,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable has been laid by the private and public sectors in the past five years. This will be significantly expanded in the years ahead,” said Zuma.
In his 2013 SONA, Zuma punted the fact that the government plans to achieve 100% broadband penetration in South Africa by 2020.
In 2012, Zuma did not mention telecommunications, but did hint at investments in “information and communication technologies” in five “major geographically-focussed programmes”.
Zuma also did not mention telecoms prices in his 2011 SONA, but in 2010 and 2009 the president promised lower telecoms fees and better services.
In his first State of the Nation Address, 2009, Zuma said the government “will ensure that the cost of telecommunications is reduced through the projects underway to expand broadband capacity”.
In 2010, Zuma focused on broadband, highlighting that the government was working to reduce the cost to communicate, adding that cheaper and faster broadband services were also on the cards.