Roy Padayachie delivered his first budget vote speech in parliament as Communications Minister, underlining the department’s key priorities and deliverables for the year 2011/12.
Last year, former communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda said in his budget vote speech that the Department of Communications has “finalized the Broadband policy whose vision is to ensure that South Africans have universal access and services to broadband by 2019”.
All eyes were on Padayachie today to hear what the minister is planning regarding broadband, and Padayachie did not disappoint.
“While mobile communications continues to experience unprecedented growth rates, Internet connectivity to the home remains low. Many South Africans still rely on broadband services at their place of work to access the Internet, hence broadband penetration stands at approximately 5% of the population,” the communications minister said.
“Current research indicates that under conditions characterised by high cost of services, saturation in urban markets and limited access in rural areas, the rate of expansion of the Internet in South Africa will decline from above 15% to 10% per annum by 2015. This projection envisages 11.3 million Internet users by 2015, which is approximately 22% of the population.”
“To address this deficit, we will work with key stakeholders which includes organised labour, civil society and academia, towards the development of a shared Vision 2020, for the country.”
Broadband infrastructure and services
Padayachie said that ICT infrastructure is a basic foundation for economic competitiveness, highlighting that Government has during the last few years increased investment in infrastructure to create jobs and stimulate the economy. “Government will accelerate broadband infrastructure spending,” said Padayachie.
“In this regard, an initial R450 million, over the MTEF period, has been allocated for the provision of Broadband services. An integrated broadband implementation plan, which will harmonise various broadband related initiatives, will be finalised in the current financial year.”
“Sentech and Ethekwini Municipality are in discussions to create an intelligent city as part of our focus on providing broadband services in urban areas. This will allow for Internet-based Government services that enable ubiquitous connectivity to transform key government processes both internally to improve efficiencies and externally to improve service delivery to the people.”