The Telecommunications and Postal Services Portfolio Committee is pleased with the level of engagement and robust discussion on the first day of the two-day Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Seminar focusing on the sector’s developments in the last 20 years.
The Committee arranged the two-day seminar with the aim of engaging in a conversation that can help shape the ICT space in South Africa, with key stakeholders in the ICT sector. “We are gathered here to look back and reflect on the past 20 years in our country.
This is imperative in recognition of the role that every player in the sector has played. Members of Parliament must be vigilant in ensuring that legislation and laws that we pass enable the ICT sector to grow in its entirety”, says Committee Chairperson, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi.
The Committee has noted the issues raised by the various stakeholders at today’s session and they will form part of the agenda of the Committee.
Stakeholders were unanimous in lamenting the lack of enabling ICT policies by government. The Committee is concerned that the same issues that were raised by the 1996 White Paper on Telecommunications, namely affordability and accessibility are still prevalent after 20 years.
The Committee has noted that the cost to communicate has become a new tool of economic divide and social exclusion between those who can afford and those who can’t, with data costs being unaffordable to most South Africans.
The Committee has also noted that whilst there are issues of market failure in ensuring that services are accessible to the general public and the lack of regulatory interventions and policies, the Committee also notes challenges around coordination of ICT infrastructure deployment throughout the three sectors of government.
The Committee is also concerned that in the past ICT regulations were passed without prior evidence based research, a situation which the regulatory body, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), is beginning to address.
The Committee hopes that this Seminar will push for a coordinated and multi-stakeholder investment in the research and development sector that is ICT specific.
The Committee also notes calls for sound and long term policy developments with an effective implementation plan imbedded to improve South Africa’s ICT international ranking.
The Committee will continue with day 2 of the seminar tomorrow from 08:00 until 17:00 at E249 in the National Assembly Building.
ISSUED BY PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES, MS MMAMOLOKO KUBAYI.
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact:
Ms Faith Kwaza
Parliamentary Communication Services
Tel: 021 403 8062
Cell: 081 377 0686
Source : Parliament of South Africa