Give that man a Bells

There are a few things which became synonymous with the Department of Communications (DoC) over the years – uselessness, infighting and turmoil, missed deadlines and controversial ministers. However, there is a new sheriff in town and things are changing fast.

Under new communications minister Yunus Carrim the wheels at the DoC started turning again, and progress is made on a range of initiatives.

In a recent presentation at parliament’s portfolio committee on communications (PCC), Carrim and deputy minister Stella Ndabeni reported back on the progress made on its commitments.

Carrim said that they have delivered on most targets, and have, overall, done reasonably well. “But, of course, we can do more – and we must,” he added.

This is a welcome change from previous ministers where not much progress was made, and where political and personal battles overshadowed real work at the DoC.

The following table provides an overview of the progress made by the DoC.

DoC update of progress made since 05 November 2013 till 31 January 2014
Commitment Deadline
Ensure a more effective DoC 2014 Elections
  • DDG: SOCs Oversight & Enterprise Development; DDG: Information Society Development & Research and DDG: ICT Infrastructure Development have been appointed and have assumed their duties in the Department.
  • The Chief Financial Officer (CFO); Chief Director: HRM; Chief Director: Internal Audit & Risk Management assumed their duties in January 2014. The Director: Internal Audit will start work on 17 Feb 2014.
  • A total of 58 non-SMS positions were advertised internally and 16 critical SMS positions were advertised in November 2013. Positions advertised are being interviewed and appointments are expected to be made as early as February and March 2014.
  • Almost all senior positions are now filled.
  • All SMS and non-SMS employees have been migrated into the revised organisational structure and the process was finalized on 15 January 2014. The migration of SMS is finalised.
  • The integrated Action Plan developed to address issues raised by the Auditor General in the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 financial years is being implemented and monitored.
  • An operations Committee has been established to review all the policies of the Department and align them with DPSA and National Treasury Regulations. The review will be completed by April 2014.
A less fragmented and fractious ICT Sector 2014 Elections
  • The Minister continued engagements with relevant organisations and individuals on content issues and with regards to mediating differences between stakeholders.
  • The Ministry has met 191 organisations and individuals since 12 July 2013.
  • The DoC has taken a decision to focus on key measurables to assess the state of the ICT sector. Furthermore, the DoC Stakeholder engagement strategy is in the process of being reviewed in line with the aim of a less fragmented ICT Sector through pro-active stakeholder engagement.
Finalise Broadband  Policy, Strategy and Plan to take through the Cabinet process 30 Nov. 2013
  • Cabinet approved “South Africa Connect”, the National Broadband Policy, Strategy and Plan on 4 December 2013. It was gazetted on 6 December 2013.
  • A copy is enclosed. It sets out the targets and the four-pronged strategy: digital readiness; digital development; digital future; and digital opportunity.
  • A Steering Committee and Task Teams, comprising of various government departments, have been established to develop a detailed implementation plan of the policy.
  • The implementation will ensure that the policy decisions are achieved.
  • List of Candidates for Broadband Council has been compiled for Minister’s consideration.
  • The schools connectivity programme has been accelerated – 565 schools have been connected since 4 December adoption of “South Africa Connect”.
Develop an effective Spectrum Policy to facilitate the development of wireless technologies in support of universal access and economic development 2014 Elections
  • The Department has developed a draft Policy Direction on Spectrum for Broadband to facilitate universal broadband access and economic development.
  • The Department is in the process of publishing the findings of the Digital Dividend study which is essential to the release of digital dividend spectrum.
  • The process to align the draft broadband spectrum policy directions with the Broadband Policy (establishment of open access model) has been taken forward.
Finalise a new policy directive on Transparent Pricing Policy 30 Sept. 2013
The Department was waiting for the finalisation of ICASA’s MTR regulations before taking forward the Policy Directive on Transparent Pricing Policy. This is now being done
Convene a pricing workshop as part of a consultative process on the cost-to-communicate 30 Sept. 2013
The target was achieved and no activities were needed post the 5th of November. Outcomes will be incorporated in the cost to communicate programme for 2014/2015 year
Engage ICASA on the  review of the Mobile Termination Rate (MTR) 30 Sept. 2013
  • Engagement were held with ICASA.
  • ICASA released the final regulations on mobile termination rates, gazetted on 4th Feb 2014, which will be effective as of the 1st March 2014.
SENTECH to provide 84% of the country with network for the roll-out of the Digital Terrestrial Television 2014 Elections
  • The Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) network now covers 83.7% of the population.
  • 16% of the remaining population will be covered by Sentech’s satellite platform which provides 100% geographical and population coverage.
  • The DoC, in collaboration with its State Owned Companies (SOCs), is continuing with conducting education provincial road-shows to promote the uptake of digital television services provided under the newly launched satellite platform
Convene a facilitation process to bring together the contending parties to reach agreement on the Set Top Box “Control issue” 15 Sept. 2013
  • The facilitation report was completed and submitted to the Department.
  • The amendments to the BDM Policy were gazetted on 6 December 2013, following Cabinet approval on 4 December 2013 .
  • A copy of the amendments is included. Basically, the policy states that broadcasters are free to decide whether they want to use the control system or not. The STBs will, however, have a control system for a variety of reasons, including the need to protect our local electronics industry, create space for emerging entrepreneurs, avoid the delays that changing the SABS standard would require, minimise successful legal action and keep the doors open to broadcasters not wanting to use the control system now doing so in the future. Broadcasters using the system will have to pay for it. There are 12 criteria that were used to shape this approach.
  • As there is still not consensus on this approach, negotiations are continuing both through the Facilitation Team and in other ways. We would like this finalised as soon as possible.
Connect 788 schools as part of increasing focus on rural and other underserviced areas 2014 Elections
  • 6841 schools connected since 2009 by the ICT industry (Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Sentech, Telkom, Neotel, WBS, USAASA, CSIR)
  • 4900 of these schools benefited from e-rate
  • 1427 schools have been connected by the DoC in the current financial year
  • 565 schools have been connected since adoption of the broadband Policy in December 2013
  • 268 of these schools have end to end connectivity solution
  • A total of 8268 schools have been connected through government and industry initiatives
SAPO to build 50 new post offices as part of increasing focus on rural and other underserviced areas 2014 Elections
  • Status of Post Offices – No.
  • Post offices completed and operational – 15
  • Post offices under construction with estimated d.o.c.: 31/03/14 – 9
  • Retail Postal Agencies ready to be fitted with counters and staff to be trained – 22
  • Mobile offices ready to be fitted with equipment – 4TOTAL – 50
Take forward the project on the National Address System
  • A Policy provision regarding the National Addressing System has been sent for consideration by the Policy Panel in the Green Paper.
  • Over 326 971 post and addresses were delivered. (this covers the period August 2013 to January 2014 as no actual numbers were provided to the PCC on 5 November 2013)
  • A Steering Committee composed of COGTA, Home Affairs, Social Development, SA Police Services, Monitoring and Evaluation, Statistics South Africa, and SAPO has been established and held its first meeting on 07 February 2014, to guide in the rollout of address by other agencies and guide the implementation of the standardised addresses.
  • A concept paper has been developed and consultation for its finalisation is underway.
Provide clearer Shareholder Compacts and exercise more stringent oversight of the SOCs 2014 Elections
  • Shareholder Compacts of SAPO, Sentech and SABC were approved by the Minister.9 Board members of .zaDNA are to be appointed. The process is almost complete
Provide clearer Shareholder Compacts and exercise more stringent oversight of the SOCs 2014 Elections
  • 3 Sentech board members have been appointed. 2 others are to be appointed soon.
  • Four SAPO Board members were appointed by Cabinet on 4 December 2013.
  • SAPO strike largely ended. Strike has to be linked to overall structural problems in SAPO.
  • An SIU investigation into SAPO has begun.
  • A further investigation into USAASA is being processed following the draft Gobodo Report.
  • Following the analysis of 2nd Quarter reports of Entities, meetings have been held with all the entities where the respective quarterly reports have been presented and discussed. Quarterly Report meetings for the quarter ending 31 December will be concluded by the end of February 2014
Finalise the licence issues and the appointment of Board members to the Postbank 31 Jan. 2014
  • List of potential Postbank board designate members have been submitted to the Registrar of Banks with the application for fit and proper assessment by the Registrar.
  • Final appointment of members will be done once a report on the fit and proper assessment is received from the Registrar.
  • A Cooperation Agreement, emanating from the Postbank Act, has been developed and approved by the SAPO Board. This Agreement requires SAPO and the Postbank to enter into an agreement on pertinent issues such as the sharing of infrastructure amongst others.
  • In terms of the application for authorisation to establish a bank, SARB has started engagements with SAPO/Postbank on 16 January 2014 in this regard.
  • R481m has been allocated to Postbank for the 2013-2016 financial years by National Treasury – although this will not be sufficient. With the R205 million of the allocated funds already received by Postbank, it is in a process of implementing new IT infrastructure and new capabilities required in a bank.
Finalise a National Integrated ICT Policy Green Paper 30 Nov. 2013
  • Following Cabinet approval for its gazetting, the National Integrated ICT Policy Green Paper for public consultation on 24th January 2014.
  • The period for consultation on the Green Paper has been extended to 24th March 2014.
  • Public engagements will commence on 3rd March 2014 with a National Consultative Conference, which will be followed by Provincial Public hearings.
Establish  a National ICT Forum together with government , the industry, trade unions and, individual experts from academic and government as well as civil society role-players Late  Nov.  2013 or early 2014
  • A database of relevant stakeholders has been created and a ToR for the National ICT Forum has been developed.
  • The launch of the National ICT Forum will take place after the completion of the Green Paper public hearings.
Finalise a new Community Broadcasting Support Policy 2014 Elections
A draft Community Broadcasting Support Strategy has been developed and will be published for public comment soon.

  • Infrastructure has been provided to 4 Community Radio Stations as follows:Lentswe Community Radio – Parys (Freestate)Zebitiela Community Radio – Zebitiela (Limpopo)Botlokwa community Radio – Botlokwa Limpopo)Phalaborwa Community Radio –Namakgale (Limpopo)
  • Infrastructure for an additional 7community radio stations will also be provided in the second quarter of the 2014/15 financial year as follows:Thabazimbi Radio – ThabazimbiShine FM – Richards BayMaputaland Radio – JoziniGood news FM – DurbanRadio KC – Western Cape

    Valley FM – Western Cape

    Vaaltar FM – Taung

Process the 4 Bills before Parliament:

  • Electronic Communications Amendment Bill;
  • ICASA Amendment Bill;
  • South African Post Office Amendment Bill; and
  • The Postbank Amendment Bill.
2014 Elections
  • SAPO and Post Bank Bills have been enacted by the President.
  • The ECA Bill was adopted by the Select Committee on Labour and Public Enterprises on 5 February 2014.
  • The ICASA Bill is expected to be adopted by the Select Committee on Labour and Public Enterprises on 12 February 2014.
  • We once again express our appreciation to the PCC for your efficient processing of the Bills.
Finalise the merger of the e-Skills Institute (e-SI), the NEMISA and the Institute for Software and Satellite Applications (ISSA), to form an integrated institute for e-Skills 2014 Elections
  • The integrated e-Skills Institute, “Ikamva National e-Skills Institute”, will be launched on 21 February 2014.
  • Funding to the tune of R15 million has been secured and has already been transferred to NEMISA.
  • Discussions have concluded with 12 key government departments to finalise an audit of current approaches aimed at e-skills delivery.
  • The partnership with local universities that are currently hosting the 6 provincial e-Skills colabs is being strengthened
  • Collaboration with IBM International and the Digital Opportunity Trust was established to further enhance collaboration in the country and to establish a 7th CoLab in the North West Province.

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Give that man a Bells