ANC’s lofty-but-useless plans for ICT in South Africa

The ANC has released a report on its 54th National Conference.

It contains an overview of the recent ANC conference and the resolutions which were adopted at it.

“The ANC can unequivocally and proudly say that we emerged from this conference invigorated and renewed to continue serving the people of South Africa,” states the report.

The document covers multiple sectors of the economy, including the ICT sector, and details the ruling party’s plans going forward.

ICT sector

The proposals put forward for the ICT market, however, are nothing short of vague and lofty.

While positive in theory, there are no detailed plans and the proposals contain lines like “the price of data must be reduced” and “huge investments are needed to roll out broadband and prepare for the Internet of Things”.

Four of the resolutions for the ICT sector in the ANC conference report, along with reasons why their words are essentially empty, are listed below.

Cost and coverage

The high cost for South Africans of communication needs to be addressed through policy and regulatory systems. In addition there is a need to increase the rollout of broadband infrastructure especially in rural areas.

Mobile operators Vodacom and MTN have stated unequivocally that if they are given more radio spectrum they can provide data services at faster speeds and for lower prices.

They have also stated that more spectrum will allow them to greatly improve coverage – including in rural areas.

But instead of assisting operators, the ANC government has locked down spectrum for years and failed to complete the digital TV migration process – meaning operators are left with their hands tied.

Another example of the ANC’s poor attitude towards broadband is shown in the recent spat between the Eastern Cape government and SITA – the state’s technology coordinator.

The Eastern Cape is fighting to have fibre rolled out in the provide after asking SITA for over a year for assistance with the broadband project.

The ANC has had plenty of opportunities to lower the price of data and expand broadband coverage.

The Post Office

The ANC must ensure the implementation of the resolutions to support the Post Office, including that Government business must be availed to the Post Office through intergovernmental framework to maximize the use and value of the Post Office infrastructure to achieve its developmental mandate.

The Post Office cannot keep its website online and pay its domain fees on time, and private companies refuse to even consider using it.

MyBroadband has also received dozens of complaints from readers about how they have been waiting for packages for months, with attempts to contact the Post Office for assistance proving futile.

If the ANC government gives work to the Post Office, it will not end well.

Wi-Fi in every school

The ANC must further encourage efforts by Government and the private sector to deploy broadband infrastructure and services and also ensure accessibility of free Wi-Fi as part of the development of economic inclusion. Free Wi-Fi must also be provided in rural areas as well as metros and in all public schools, clinics, libraries, etc.

Earlier this month, a 5-year-old Grade R pupil at a public school in Bizana in the Eastern Cape died when she fell into a pit toilet.

It later emerged that the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, which was aimed at addressing poor conditions at public schools, had reportedly been stopped due to maladministration and delays.

“Out of 259 schools that were supposed to be provided with sanitation in the 2016/17 year, only nine have,” said the DA on the matter.

If the government cannot ensure all public schools have safe toilets, how is it going to install Wi-Fi at every school, library, and clinic?

South African content

Interventions must include strategies to ensure that SA content and websites become favourites countrywide.

I am not sure what this even means.

Will the ANC government assist local websites financially, force redirects to local websites at an ISP level, or does it plan to nationalise Facebook?

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ANC’s lofty-but-useless plans for ICT in South Africa