S.Africa’s communications sector on new path to improvement - CNBC Africa

S.Africa’s communications sector on new path to improvement

Southern Africa

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“We have a strategy and a programme. The strategy has six interrelated aspects. Firstly that we have to locate our programme and strategy within the National Development Plan, national growth path and the ANC’s Mangaung Policy resolutions. Secondly we need to stabilise the department, invigorate it, fill in the critical posts that are available,” Carrim told CNBC Africa.

“Thirdly to reduce the fragmentation and fractious nature of the ICT sector, while recognising there’s competition and profits at issue. Fourthly is to have realistic and realisable goals between now and the elections next year.”

Carrim added that the fifth objective included finalising the ICT policy while ensuring that the green and white papers are finalised, as well as setting a much firmer foundation in the sector for the next five-year term.

“For our programme, there are various aspects. Essentially it’s around firstly ensuring that our broadband policy plan and strategy is finalised. At this stage we hope to have it out by the end of November. Related to it is actually spectrum policy, a new one for March 2014,” Carrim explained.

The reduction of the cost of communication is also on the agenda, as South Africa is ranked as having the most expensive mobile pre-paid voice market in Africa. This will be in partnership with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).

As part of the communications sector revamp, 788 schools will also be connected to the internet between now and the end of the financial year.

“This sector has considerable potential to create jobs. The World Bank suggests that if you have a 10 per cent increase in broadband, you can have up to 1.38 per cent increase in GDP, which brings job creation,” said Carrim.

“At the moment, the digital economy as it’s called constitutes two per cent of the economy. If you think that agriculture is 2.1 per cent, you can see where the prospects are for this part of the economy to grow.”