The Department of Telecommunications will “facilitate the establishment” of 96 Internet service providers in South Africa.
Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams made the statement while addressing a Parliamentary portfolio committee on the cost to communicate in the country.
The department will prioritise “the youth and women” in the initiative, and will also “increase awareness and participation of SMMEs in ecommerce”.
“The department further plans to facilitate and monitor the implementation of the minimum set-asides of 30% for procurement of services from SMMEs along the entire ICT value chain from the financial year, starting in April 2018,” she said.
Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele was also present at the presentation, and spoke about high prices in the telecoms industry.
“One of the main reasons we still have high costs is because the industry remains highly concentrated. We are unlikely to see aggressive competition if we don’t open up the sector to more and new entrants,” said Cwele.
He said the work being done by ICASA on “effective competition in the broadband market” was making progress, along with the Competition Commission’s inquiry into data services.
“ICASA is scheduled to release its findings by June 2018, which will indicate a list of markets that should be regulated and priority markets to be subjected to market reviews.”
Cwele made no mention of the allocation of high-demand radio frequency spectrum, however, which mobile operators like Vodacom and MTN have stated will allow them to provide better coverage and faster speeds at cheaper prices.