Statement by the Ministry of Communications at the conclusion of the meeting of the Minister Honourable Radhakrishna (Roy) Padayachie with the leadership of the top information and communication technology (ICT) companies
25 Feb 2011
It is my pleasure to brief members of the media on the outcome of the discussion between the Ministry of Communications and the leadership of the Top 30 information and communication technology (ICT) companies in the country. It is indeed humbling that the leadership of the sector accepted the invitation to engage the Minister on a range of issues confronting the ICT sector.
As indicated in my address to the meeting, I first announced my willingness to engage with all stakeholders, including the private sector, during my first engagement with the media late last year.
This meeting with the captains of industry is the first of a series of summits with industry stakeholders.
More meetings will take place to ensure that other stakeholders are afforded the necessary opportunity to engage with us.
It is important to note that this strategy forms part of a new approach to governance as highlighted by President Zuma in various public messages, including the recent State of Nation Address.
In particular, the president’s emphasis on the need for partnerships with the private sector is central to this endeavour. In the ICT sector we need partnerships with the private sector than ever before considering the significant role of industry in the rollout of infrastructure and services.
More specifically, I invited the private sector to enter into partnerships with the department which itself is undergoing watershed transformation to meet current and future challenges. In this process, the department will tap into existing skills in the sector through secondments of expert skills between industry and the department. The department will also seek to improve its capacity to respond to issues raised by industry and other stakeholders.
I also invited industry to make specific commitments towards the creation of jobs. This is important considering that the majority of the unemployed in our country are young people.
The President and the Minister of Finance announced a range of opportunities and incentives to create sustainable jobs across the various sectors.
In response to my address to the meeting we held this morning, a panel comprising Messrs Andile Ngcaba (Dimension Data), Craig Venter (Altech), Atul Gupta (Sahara Computers), Nolo Letele (Multichoice), Pieter Uys (Vodacom), Sifiso Dabengwa (MTN) and Jayendra Naidoo (J&J Group), welcomed the invitation to form a partnership between government and industry.
Amongst other issues, the panellists suggested that the partnership should be ongoing to deal with all pressing issues related to job creation, skills development, adoption of forward looking policies embracing convergence, more work on the rollout of universal services including uptake and usage of ICTs in the whole society.
Industry players also noted the clarity created by the minister regarding the digital broadcasting standard. There was consensus that digital broadcasting and the rollout of Broadband will revolutionise the sector and usher in immense social and economic gains.
In response to the panellists, I highlighted the need to think of investment opportunities beyond the borders of South Africa. South African companies should take advantage of the immense opportunities across Africa. The political partnerships between South Africa and other developing countries should lead to economic benefits for the private sector and the country as a whole.
The panel discussion was followed by a lunch working session to allow all participants to make their own inputs.
The broader plenary presentation highlighted the following issues:
- Industry welcomes the private public partnerships and they believe that this will lead to a vision for the ICT sector.
- The partnership should include other users of ICTs in government and industry.
- There is a need for clarity on the rules of engagement between the various participants.
- Establish a Working Group on Job Creation and another on Vision 2020 for the ICT sector.
- Ensure policy coherency and consistencyat Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and the department.
- No preferred rights should be conferred on any player; instead more work should be done to enhance competitiveness in the sector.
- Government should involve industry and other stakeholders in international missions to represent South Africa’s policy position on ICT issues.
- Ensure that the focus of the department goes beyond telecommunications and must pay equal attention to the entire industry.
- The benefits of digital broadcasting should accrue to all players, including small companies, especially in rural areas.
- The envisaged Vision 2020 should also investigate opportunities to introduce incentive based regulations to encourage industry to invest in less profitable areas.
- The issues raised during the discussions will form part of the short and long term interventions of the department. In the short to medium term more work will be focused on the rollout of broadband and digital broadcasting with more emphasis on the creation of jobs.
- The long term issues will be included in the discussion on the envisaged Vision 2020 which will set out the vision and targets to be met by the sector by 2020.
- The Minister will further outline the process of taking forward the issues raised by stakeholders, including the establishment of the working groups, during the budget vote of the Department of Communications.
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Issued by: Department of Communications
25 Feb 2011
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