At a media briefing held today in Sunninghill following a meeting between the Department of Communications (DoC) and various South African Information and Communication Technology (ICT) players, the department outlined its plan to address a number of concerns in the sector.
Deputy minister of communications Obed Bapela addressed these plans and the concerns surrounding them in the context of “sustainable job creation.”
These plans are as follows:
- Finalisation of the licensing of high demand spectrum in the 2.6GHz and 3.5 GHz bands.
- Mandate ICASA to commence work on the digital dividend review, looking at the needs of all broadcasting and electronic communication services.
- Review the current funding model of ICASA through the amendment to the ICASA act.
- Development of the National Broadband Plan which will also “assist in efforts to unlock the Universal Services and Access Fund”
- Commencement of the manufacturing of digital terrestrial television (DTT) set-top boxes (STBs) as soon as the standard is gazetted by the SABS. Bapela mentioned that concerns had been raised by industry that production of STBs had to begin by January or February 2012 to be able to meet the April 2012 switch-on date. Only 5 million STBs will be subsidised for poor families and adequate policies need to be put in place to determine whether a household qualifies, Bapela said.
- Finalisation of the corporatisation of the Postbank.
- Fast-track the incubation of the ICT e-Skills Institute.
- Medium-term endeavour to improve policy-making and regulation through the introduction of established evidence-based methods such as Regulatory Impact Analysis as a basic requirement in their decision-making.
The DoC said that they have begun to identify direct jobs that will be created through its interventions and those of SOEs and presented the following figures “for the purposes of this discussion.”
- Infrastructure Development (Access Centres): 7,880
- Broadband infrastructure: 160,000
- Creative digital industries., including content development: 8,580
- BPO, SMMEs and co-operatives: 42,790
- Digital set-top box manufacturing: 24,300
- Postal sector and Postbank rollout: 24,190