Communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda will table a plan, aimed at dealing with SA’s low penetration of broadband Internet access, to cabinet within the next four months.
That’s the word from department of communications chief director Anneke Grond, who was speaking to TechCentral on the sidelines of the department’s broadband colloquium at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on Thursday.
Grond said the strategic plan would be presented to cabinet for approval before the end of March 2010.
Her comments followed two days of deliberations over the department’s draft policy document on broadband, at which government and telecommunications industry representatives debated a range of topics, including what constitutes broadband.
In closing remarks at the colloquium, Nyanda said that 15 years after the advent of democracy, SA had “not been able to ensure as many people as possible have access to what is undoubtedly rapidly becoming a basic tool, the Internet”.
“Statistics tell us that broadband penetration in our country is low because of among other things, the lack of adequate infrastructure and the high cost of accessing broadband services,” the minister said.
Diverting from the text of his prepared speech, Nyanda emphasised that the policy initiative should not be seen as an attempt by government to control the roll-out of broadband. “The national government is in no way indicating that government is the most important in this,” he said. “Government needs to act as an enabler for the private sector to make money and provide services.”
He said government must still determine what state-owned organisations like Sentech will play in delivering Interent access, particularly to rural areas and townships.
“As the information and communications technology industry, you need to ask yourselves whether these organisations are able to deal with the mammoth task of connecting the nation by themselves. If the answer is ‘no’, then what is it that you, as industry, ought to do to ensure that these important state-owned enterprises are better positioned to respond adequately to the needs of our people?” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral