THE continual delay in adopting a broadband policy is frustrating economic growth and developmental goals, and such a policy has to be implemented decisively, Communications Minister Yunus Carrim said on Monday.
He was speaking at the launch of the national consultative conference on the Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Policy green paper. The conference marked the beginning of the second round of public consultations in the ICT policy review process, which is evaluating the effect of existing ICT policies.
He said that in December the Cabinet had adopted SA Connect, which is the country’s broadband policy and strategy.
A key aspect was public-private partnerships to extend infra-structure for broadband. “The extension of broadband is utterly crucial to our ICT and economic growth and developmental goals — and SA Connect will be the broad framework within which almost all of our department’s work will be located for several years to come. We need to implement SA Connect decisively,” he said.
The Department of Communications, which has had a turbulent couple of years, has continued to struggle to meet its targets, including broadband.
Its annual report last year showed that 46% of planned targets were not fully achieved.
The absence of a policy, which was highlighted by the Treasury in the medium-term budget policy statement last year, had dashed the government’s hopes of spreading broadband beyond the 15.8% of the population with access to the technology.
The failure to roll out broadband expeditiously also made a mockery of the Department of Communications’s claim that it had prioritised broadband penetration for the next five years in a bid to achieve 100% access by 2020.
The Treasury said in its medium-term budget statement in 2012 that the department’s performance had not been up to scratch, due to delays in finalising the broadband strategy.
The green paper is aimed at revamping South Africa’s current misaligned ICT policies.
It will be taken across South Africa for public comments.
The 102-page, 12-chapter document deals with the need to amend and integrate current policies and regulations to take account of the rapid changes in the ICT space.