Yunus Carrim as comms minister: industry responds

President Jacob Zuma named Yunus Carrim as South Africa’s new communications minister at a special media briefing at the Union Buildings on 9 July 2013. Carrim takes over from Dina Pule who has been embroiled in many scandals over the past year.

Carrim is the former South African Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

He holds a B.A. (Hons) and M.A. in Sociology from the University of Warwick, and an International Diploma in Journalism from Darlington College of Technology.

While many South Africans welcomed Zuma’s decision to replace Pule, Carrim’s lack of experience in the telecoms and IT space did not go down well with some people.

“How can someone with no experience in the technology field be the communications minister?” asked one person.

“Another unqualified appointment. With so many business leaders in the ICT sector, surely they can find someone with at least some skills in the area they are to manage,” said another commentator.

Big players’ politically correct views

Zunaid Bulbulia
Zunaid Bulbulia

Zunaid Bulbulia, MTN SA CEO, congratulated Carrim on his appointment as minister of communications.

“MTN hopes that the minister will create an enabling environment that will allow operators, government and other stakeholders in the ICT sector to prosper and deliver on their mandate,” said Bulbulia.

Vodacom also congratulated Carrim, saying that they look forward to working with him on the crucial task of providing connectivity to the nation.

Cell C congratulated Carrim, saying that they hope that the Department of Communications under his leadership will retain and implement policies that promote sustainable competition in the telecoms industry to reduce the cost to communicate.

Smaller players’ honest views

Laurie Fialkov
Laurie Fialkov

Cybersmart CEO Laurie Fialkov said that he would like Carrim to address the current telecoms license fee system in South Africa.

“It would be nice if the percentage of turnover licence fee is abolished. We already pay income tax – I am not sure why we should be taxed again to remain licensed and certainly not as a percentage of turnover,” said Fialkov.

“The DoC has done fairly good work (it has taken a while) to put together a really robust regulatory framework. I think their focus should be placed on implementing this framework as well as making the processes much clearer for ISPs,” he added.

Murray Steyn
Murray Steyn

Murray Steyn, Vox Telecom’s executive head: commercial and regulatory, said that there is a dangerous sense of deja vu with the appointment of Carrim.

“It would nice to get some finality on Local Loop Unbundling, something that has been long promised but never delivered,” said Steyn.

Steyn further advised that the DoC under Carrim should ensure a truly competitive environment by overseeing the proper functional separation of retail from wholesale at Telkom.

The department should also ensure a well-functioning regulator whose independence is not compromised in any way.

Derek Hershaw Mweb
Derek Hershaw

MWEB ISP CEO Derek Hershaw said that it is difficult to comment on Carrim’s appointment as he is an unknown entity.

“It appears that he has very little expertise in the telecoms space so it’s going to take a while for him to get up to speed,” said Hershaw.

“I sincerely hope that he is not just a placeholder appointment until next year’s general elections.”

Hershaw added that the frustration with all of this is that Dina Pule should have been removed from office a while ago.

“Instead, projects of national importance like spectrum assignment have been allowed to stall and broadband remains out of reach to the majority of South Africans. We need decisive action from the new minister to get these initiatives moving,” said Hershaw.

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Yunus Carrim as comms minister: industry responds