Wednesday, 14 March 2018 09:30

Department to bring internet services closer to people

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The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services plans to facilitate the establishment of 96 Internet Service Providers over a period of three years.

stella-ndabeni-abrahams

Addressing Parliament on Tuesday, Deputy Minister for Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, said the initiative will prioritise the youth and women as well as increase awareness and the participation of Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) in e-Commerce.

Furthermore, the department plans to facilitate and monitor the implementation of the minimum set-asides of 30% for procurement of services from SMMEs along the entire ICT value chain from the financial year, starting in April 2018.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said the ICT SMME Development Strategy is ambitious and aims to nurture entrepreneurs from the innovation stage through to access to markets.

“As the sector, we are already doing a lot to support ICT SMMEs but we work in an uncoordinated manner and we don’t follow through. The ICT SMME Development Strategy facilitates the introduction of Techlabs, which are essentially mini innovation hubs,” she said.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams and Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, led the department’s presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on the work being done to reduce telecommunication costs and on the implementation of the ICT SMME Development Strategy.

The Minister welcomed the progress made by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) on the effective competition in the broadband market and the Competition Commission’s market inquiry into data services.

“These are necessary interventions but the turnaround is slow compared to the public demand and need,” Minister Cwele said.

ICASA is scheduled to release its findings by June 2018 which will indicate a list of markets that should be regulated and priority markets to be subjected to market reviews.

The Competition Commission is expected to release an interim report in April 2018 for public comment and a final report in August 2018.

Minister Cwele said the work of the Competition Commission will also assist to resolve the awarding of the transversal telecommunications contract to one service provider.

He said the award could be problematic because it could be viewed as government reinforcing the dominance of a single player while it should be encouraging competition.