Speech of the Honourable Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr Obed Bapela, MP on the occasion of the official launch of the e-Barometer Report, Johannesburg
4 Aug 2011
Honourable Minister Roy Padayachie (In his absence)
Director-General Ms Rosey Sekese
Senior Managers in the Department of Communications
Members of the media
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
We are very humbled by your presence here today, having accepted our invitation to this important media conference for the launch of the South Africa e-readiness report otherwise known as the e-Barometer. In the past weekend of 31 July 2011, signed an ICT Industry Competitiveness and Job Creation Compact that commits to 100% broadband penetration by 2020 and the creation of one million additional jobs throughout the ICT industry. The compact was finalised after a two-day workshop during which representative from among the Top ICT industry companies and State Owned Enterprises commitments to work together to achieve the objectives and targets.
The compact recognises the significant role ICT can play to accelerate economic growth, meaningfully impact job creation and transform South Africa into one of the most competitive developing countries through a strong partnership between government (lead by the Department of Communications) working in partnership with the private sector. This workshop has particularly given us hope that we can achieve our job creation targets working in collaboration with our industry partners. We have also signed a compact to commit ourselves to do the best we can to achieve the ideals expressed in that compact.
This was a significant milestone in the ICT Industry, following the mid-year Cabinet Lekgotla from in the previous week, the Lekgotla took place following the recent local government elections in May this year. The Cabinet Lekgotla made undertakings to accelerate the provision of basic needs and infrastructure in rural and urban areas to improve the quality of life of all South Africans.
The meeting focused on two priorities - service delivery and job creation. On service delivery, it was emphasised that the extension of water, sanitation, electricity, roads and other basic needs were urgent. Lekgotla further emphasised that whatever blockages existed to delivery must be attended to without delay by all spheres of government. Honoured guests, the purpose of this conference is to present to you and the broader public, the findings of our measurement instrument, the e-Barometer, which provides us with an indication of where we are in terms of ICT Penetration in the country. The e-Barometer, as an instrument, is the first of its kind, having been developed domestically for measuring at least nine sectors, including health and agriculture, in the future.
The report which we are launching today is contributing to the research knowledge and literature which already exists out there in the public domain. We are also doing this within the framework of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), which called on countries and regions to develop tools for measuring statistical data on the progression towards an inclusive Information Society.
This report measured about 35 indicators which studied the movement or progress in those indicators. The report also gave us a summary and an analysis outcome of five (5) sectors which were surveyed by the experts appointed by the department to help us with this work. The gathering of these indexs gives us a better way to interpret the report and a view which will assist us as a country to understand our ICT Development in areas of ICT Sector, Education, Government, Household, and Community.
Although we are happy with the findings of this report on the performance of three (3) indices, namely the Individual, Community and Household, we are particularly concerned with the performance on the other group of indicators for the ICT sector, Education, and Government. We have observed that, for example, the ICT sector group of indicators gives us an average growth of -1.43 percent for the period 2006 to 2009, whilst on the other hand Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for the education group of indicators demonstrate a low at 0.96 percent for the same period. The Education Sector adoption of ICTs, which also plays a role in improving the quality of education through adoption of technologies, ensuring accessibility of information and knowledge, remains low at 0.35 CAGR for the period 2000 to 2009.
These findings demonstrate that our broadband internet penetration growth rates are far lower than countries such as Brazil, China and Republic of Korea. Our means of accessing information through radio and television have not reached the required levels particularly in the rural and remote areas. We continue to suffer from low government ICT adoption, particularly those means of ensuring that we can make government services available online. In this area, we remain for behind and to assist our accelerated improvement in Government ICT adoption, we need to learn from countries such as Singapore, Eretria, Finland and others. Mid-term measures for addressing challenges ladies and gentlemen, You will recall that during the November 2010 media statement the Minister and I committed the ministry and the Department of Communications to creating the necessary wave of change which will lead to positioning South Africa as a leader in the diffusion of technology for the people in the service of the people.
As we committed ourselves during the Budget Vote in Parliament at the end of May, we adopted a tune of working faster, harder and smarter in ensuring that we take technology to the people in service of the people. Our unwavering determination of working smarter is focused on ensuring that South Africa's development is placed on a higher development course by working with other economic sectors. The findings of the research work which has resulted in the e-Barometer Report will ensure that we take scientifically-sound and evidence-based decisions when rolling out ICT's initiatives which are geared towards improving the lives of the masses of our people.
We have committed to the implementation of six flagship projects, which we certainly believe will help us make the necessary impact to change some of the issues negatively highlighted in the report. The migration of the broadcasting system from analogue to digital by 2013 will result in more that 97 percent of our people with access to radio and television. In doing this, poor households will be supported with subsidy to enable them to access the set-top-box decoders.
Ladies and gentlemen, broadband infrastructure roll-out will deliver quality services particularly voice, data and video converged services for the benefit of all. More competition and the implementation of strategies for reducing costs of communication will bring about more opportunities for affordable services. Our plans for broadband networks already prioritise schools and health centres as primary targets and will provide accessibility to other sectors such as small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) and government centres.
Our Information society and knowledge-based economy programme will ensure that more ICT access centres are delivered, whilst on the other hand more people are provided with ICT skills. With a focus on creating digital content, this programme has particular focus on uplifting rural and underserved areas. Our State Owned Entities are also following an alignment framework which will see them playing a key and strategic role in the implementation of these priorities which will result in greater service delivery for our people. We are also reviewing the Broadcasting Policy with a view to update and align the law to the emerging digital information age revolutionised by broadcasting digital technologies such as DVB-T2 already adopted.
In addition, our policy and regulatory landscape will be crafted to conform to Convergence of services delivered through next generation technologies including wireless networks. We are working had to ensure that we build confidence in the use of ICTs through Cyber-security policy instruments, which will guarantee and protect the needs of consumers’ online services. Long Term commitment of Partners In his budget vote speech, the Minister placed the issue of Vision 2020 high on the agenda of our Ministry. It was for this reason that we invited representatives of our ICT Industry stakeholders to workshop in the past weekend.
The outcomes of this workshop included our commitment to create jobs in access of one (R1) million jobs by 2020. In this regard, our strategy for competitiveness and job creation will focus on the following priority areas for auctioning: Human capital development to ensure ICT Skills requirements of the economy, and enable South Africans effectively participate in the digital and knowledge economy.
Investment capital both in public and private sector to fund the large scale infrastructure required to achieve the targeted access and penetration levels, funding and promotion of small, medium and enterprises and the funding of innovation. Manufacturing capacity needs to be enhanced to significantly increase local digital content and leveraging on global practice to stimulate manufacturing investment. Local digital content needs to be increased considering the opportunity for application development, the multi-media sector, knowledge creation and the digitisation of government Capacitate a programme within government to drive the implementation of the strategy.
Conclusion We are confident that working in partnership with business, SMMEs and labour, we can achieve the targets we have set ourselves. We are very pleased with the private sector’s honest commitment to work for change using technology to work for a better life for all our people. We are indeed working for an innovative and globally competitive ICT Industry to accelerate the development and prosperity of all South Africans – a goal which is not far to reach. Let’s go out of our boardroom and make a difference in the implementation of government good intended policies. Once again, we urge you to join us in “building today, a better South Africa” Together we can Do More. I thank you!
Source: Department of Communications
Issued by: Department of Communications
4 Aug 2011
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