Speech by Minister General (Ret) Siphiwe Nyanda at the South Africans Communications Forum Gala Dinner, Sandton Convention Centre
16 Oct 2009
Chairperson, Mr Lucky Masilela and members of the South African Communications Forum
South Africa’s Ambassador to Germany, His Excellency Mr Eddie Funde
Chairperson of Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Mr Paris Mashile
Ladies and gentlemen
Allow me to begin by thanking the South African Communications Forum (SACF) for inviting me and my department to be part of this important occasion. I believe that this gesture by the South Africans Communications Forum (SACF) signals the need to work together in addressing the challenges facing the information communication technology sector in our country.
In his State of the nation address, President Jacob Zuma outlined the strategic priorities of the new administration. These priorities encompass every aspect at the centre of the socio-economic development agenda of our country and its citizens that must be met by 2014. I am sure that the SACF’s operational programs will provide strategic support to some of these priorities such as, strengthening the ICT skills and human base for the country, and also contribute towards strengthening our democratic institutions through partnership programs.
On the occasion of my budget vote on in June this year, I posed the question of how can ICTs support the national imperatives outlined by the President to meet the needs of our people? I am convinced that as we collectively craft the vision for the ICT sector, focus should be on finding solutions to the fundamental question I asked. This vision must set clear achievable targets to be met over the next five years and beyond.
I also made a commitment that my department will finalise a national integrated ICT policy framework, which will set a long-term vision for the development of the sector. I am encouraged by the fact that you appear to have embraced what I said on that occasion. Let the dialogue begin!
In this regard I would like to thank the SACF for preparing a framework for the development of an industry vision of an informed knowledge driven South African society by 2020. This roadmap presentation, welcome as it is, is merely the beginning of what must become a vital programme of action that would see us meeting the targets that we have set ourselves.
During the last fifteen years, government undertook a number of measures aimed at reforming the ICT sector. These measures played a critical role in improving the outlook of local and foreign investment, as well as encouraging and sustaining high levels of economic growth and employment creation.
A policy framework promoting open markets, competition and public-private partnership was successfully put in place to enhance overall efficiency and lay the foundation for the implementation of several programs and policies. The next step then becomes a review of mandates of State institutions to ensure alignment when developing an integrated ICT framework and programmes for the benefit of all stakeholders, especially consumers and investors.
Strategies to improve regional and international connectivity, to foster deployment of broadband technologies, promote convergence services and address cyber security will complement all that has been achieved so far. I also highlighted, during my budget vote, the significant progress we have made towards effective migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting and the socio-economic challenges that this migration must address.
As we forge ahead with efforts to meet the short term challenges of this migration, we must ask another question: “Can the convergence of the new digital broadcasting sector with emerging new digital telecommunications, especially the internet, enable the delivery of ever-improving qualities and quantities of information that are accessible to all our citizens at an affordable rate, especially the marginalised?
I will now move on to one of the most difficult challenges facing our nation: the seemingly intractable levels of inequality and poverty in society. As President Zuma stated in his state of the nation address, the fight against poverty remains the cornerstone of our government’s focus. There’s an urgent need to respond to the question of how ICTs can be positioned as a critical instrument to make a meaningful contribution towards the fight against poverty. ICTs provide the information and knowledge needed by those tasked with helping the poor to overcome their destitute situations.
Access to electronic communication and network services especially broadband and the internet, remain unaffordable to large sections of our society. Broadband services, if made available at an affordable rate, can add great value to our developmental agenda. The information and knowledge made available by broadband networks support every aspect of human development including education and health.
My department is addressing the challenges of access to affordable ICTs through policy and regulatory interventions. While we continue to strive to enhance the capacity of government agencies such as ICASA and Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA), we need creative ICT innovators and entrepreneurs who will take advantage of the available opportunities to introduce highly effective and affordable ICT products and services for the benefit of all our citizens.
Our policy frameworks must support such innovation and must be informed by the long term vision of government, industry and society. Our country already has the required advanced business and technological competencies needed to sustain a vibrant ICT industry. However they are not enough to catapult our nation to its rightful position as a continental leader and a competitive player at the global level in ICTs.
The ICT industry must work with government for the attainment of lasting partnerships that will see our individual efforts synergised in a bid to resolve our nation’s development challenges and indeed those of the continent. It is through such partnerships that my department will support this ICT Vision 2020 Forum comprising representatives of the ICT industry and its associations, civil society representatives, the academic community and more importantly the youth.
In closing, I am extending an invitation to the South African Communication Forum to contribute and participate in all processes initiated by my department such as the national broadband strategy, radio frequency spectrum usage policy, set top box strategy among others. I am hopeful that the resolutions taken at this forum will compliment the work being done by my department to realise an ICT industry that can adequately respond to the socio economic needs of our country.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Communications
16 October 2009
Source: Department of Communications (http://www.doc.gov.za/)
Issued by: Department of Communications
16 Oct 2009
[ Top ]