Analysts across the board have welcomed the appointment of Roy Padayachie as communications minister, saying his experience in government and in telecommunications should prove invaluable to the sector.
In the past six months, the department has faced one crisis after another — from failing state-owned enterprises to growing internal troubles.
However, analysts say Padayachie is well positioned to repair the “shattered” department.
Richard Hurst, senior analyst covering emerging markets at Ovum, says Padayachie is a “brilliant” choice. “He has been involved in the telecoms space for a long time and understands the ins and outs of the business.”
However, he says Padayachie’s most important asset is his ability to balance the needs of industry and government. “His experience in government will allow him to bridge the political gap between government and industry,” Hurst says.
Avior Research telecoms equity analyst David Lerche says Padayachie’s appointment is heartening for industry. However, Lerche says the new minister will have to prove himself over the next few months.
“It shouldn’t be too hard because the communications ministry has never really had a good track record. All he needs to do is bring common sense and motivation to the department to do well,” Lerche says.
Though he agrees the communications department is in “chaos”, Lerche says Nyanda’s term in office was “not a complete disaster”.
“He played a large role in the interconnection regulations, which will bring lower retail prices, with any luck,” he says. “There was also the launch of a new mobile entrant [Telkom’s 8ta] on his watch,” he adds.
Dobek Pater, partner at Africa Analysis, says Padayachie’s work as deputy minister in the communications department under the late Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri had earned him “brownie points” among industry players.
However, Pater warns that Padayachie will face significant political challenges, especially considering the timing of his appointment.
“Local elections are around the corner, and government has to show it is serious about service delivery,” he says.
BMI-TechKnowledge MD Denis Smit says Padayachie is up to the task both politically and for the industry. “He listens and he applies his mind,” he says.
However, Smit says the litmus test for Padayachie’s term will be who he decides to appoint as his director-general.
“The person he chooses will have to be a technocrat. They will need to understand the industry, especially with convergence and fast changing technologies,” he says. — Candice Jones, TechCentral