Biggest tech failures in South Africa in 2017

This past year saw significant failures in South Africa’s technology and telecommunications sectors.

The government’s failed spectrum policy was a recurring theme this year, with the Minister of Telecommunications and the mobile operators battling over spectrum and the planned WOAN.

The biggest tech failures in South Africa of 2017 are listed below.


Valuable wireless network capacity was once again unassigned in 2017, which Vodacom head of innovation Jannie van Zyl rated as one of the year’s big disappointemts.

MyBroadband founder Rudolph Muller agreed, stating that the government insisted on sticking with its failed spectrum policy and is now pushing an agenda to build a Wireless Open Access Network.

This is instead of assigning spectrum to organisations which have proven they can use it effectively.


Digital TV migration

A reason for the lack of spectrum assignment, according to the government, is that the migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting is not complete.

This will free the “digital dividend”, a chunk of low-frequency spectrum ideal for wide-area coverage – such as LTE in rural areas.

In principle the idea sounds great – assign 2.6GHz spectrum and the 800MHz digital dividend spectrum together.

Unfortunately, the migration has been delayed multiple times. The latest target is June 2019 – eight years behind schedule.

Go digital

Master deeds leak

Van Zyl also highlighted the leak of the personal details of nearly every living South African as another big failure this year.

This was as a result of a company leaving an unsecured backup of its database of every person in the country with an ID number on its web server.

In the end, its poor security left the records of over 75 million people at risk.

Information security privacy password hacking crypto

Water shortage

Another significant failure in South Africa is not using technology to address the water shortage in Cape Town, said Van Zyl.

The City has implemented strict water restrictions and issued warnings to citizens that dam levels are critically low.

Cape Town view from Atlantic side

Now read: Short notice for new law to take back Vodacom and MTN spectrum

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Biggest tech failures in South Africa in 2017