South Africa’s National Treasury released its medium-term budget policy statement today (23 October 2013), showing that the Department of Communications (DoC) performed abysmally when it comes to set-top box manufacturing, the creation of ICT hubs, ICT jobs, and broadband penetration.
According to the National Treasury, there has been no achievement from the DoC on the number of small, medium, and micro ICT enterprise hubs created in each province within the first six months of 2013.
This, the Treasury said, is due to budgetary constraints as funding earmarked for this has been reallocated to other priorities.
There was also no achievement to date on the number of e-cooperatives established to increase the entry of youth owned small enterprises into the ICT sector.
This was because the e-cooperatives programme has been removed from the department’s strategic plan, due to budgetary constraints in the current financial year.
The DoC did not provide any feedback on its broadband penetration progress. The excuse provided is that there is no integrated figure for broadband penetration.
There is no integrated figure for broadband penetration as categories are measured separately (i.e. households with mobile phones, households with internet over a personal computer or tablet). The department will measure and report on separate penetration indicators in future.
The situation does not look much better when it comes to the adoption of digital TV in South Africa.
Cabinet approved R2.4-billion for the procurement of five million set top boxes, but this amount did not take into account the costs of the acquisition of antennas and installations of the boxes. This has resulted in significant delays in the project, and nothing has been achieved to date.
A further delaying factor has been the as yet unresolved legal dispute between the Department of Communications and free to air broadcaster e.tv about set top box control.
In fact, it is hard to find any significant achievements when looking at the National Treasury’s mid-year performance status for communications (provided below).
|Mid-year performance status|
|Indicator||Programme||Projected for 2013/14||Achieved in the first six months of 2013/14 (April to September)|
|Number of ICT position papers developed for international engagements per year||International Affairs and Trade||5||3|
|Rand reduction in per minute cost of mobile phones (wholesale interconnection rate per minute) per year||Policy, Research and Capacity Development||R0.4||R0.4|
|Rand reduction in per minute cost for fixed line (public access) phones per year||Policy, Research and Capacity Development||R0.12||R0.12|
|Number of community radio stations provided with broadcasting infrastructure per year||Policy, Research and Capacity Development||5||0|
|Number of young people participating in the national youth information society and development programme per year||Policy, Research and Capacity Development||500||0|
|Number of e-cooperatives established to increase entry of youth owned small enterprises into the ICT sector per year||Policy, Research and Capacity Development||60||0|
|Number of provinces for which provincial cultural heritage content is captured in the national digital repository per year||Policy, Research and Capacity Development||2||0|
|Number of jobs created through ICT related projects per year||Policy, Research and Capacity Development||36 644 (40%)||–|
|Number of the ICT Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises hubs created in each province per year||Broadcasting and Communication Regulation and Support||2||0|
|Number of set top boxes produced per year||Broadcasting and Communication Regulation and Support||2 016 000||0|
|Percentage of broadband penetration per year||Infrastructure Support||10%||–|