The Democratic Alliance on Wednesday claimed that the ANC government, through its empowerment policies, has effectively blocked Elon Musk from launched SpaceX’s satellite-based Starlink internet service in South Africa.
DA shadow minister of communications Dianne Kohler Barnard said in a statement that communications regulator’s equity ownership restrictions on telecommunications licences is holding back SpaceX from launching Starlink to South African consumers.
Those regulations, Kohler Barnard said, require entities like Starlink to apply for network and service licences from Icasa, both of which require 30% of the shareholding to be in the hands of “historically disadvantaged groups”.
“It is simply laughable that an international, multibillion-dollar company must hand over at least 30% of its equity to the ANC government to operate within South Africa,” Kohler Barnard said, implying incorrectly that the shares have to be sold to the government.
“In a written response received from the minister of communications & digital technologies (Mondli Gungubele), the ANC, in no uncertain terms, declared that South Africans will never receive free internet or data and that millions will continue to live with no access to technology, unless it is provided by an ANC cadre or tenderpreneur,” the DA MP said.
She said South Africa “looks set to become one of the only African countries not to roll out Starlink” because of the black economic empowerment rules and vowed to write to Gungubele to have the regulations amended “to remove the archaic, irrational and ridiculous hurdles to progress”.
“Additionally, the DA will ask both Elon Musk’s office and SpaceX to make an application to the ANC government to provide these services in South Africa and pressure the ANC into allowing our people to join the rest of the world online and not become the digital pariah of not only our own continent but the rest of the world,” she said. – © 2023 NewsCentral Media