•R27bn pledge to usher in 5G technologies
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Communications and Digital Technologies Minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, has announced that R27 billion has been pledged by operators and vendors to usher in 5G fibre technologies in South Africa.
The Minister said this when she tabled the department’s budget vote during a mini plenary of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
“We believe that partnerships and collaborations are key to taking our sector to greater heights.
“I am therefore pleased to announce that R27 billion is being pledged collectively by the operators and vendors to expand the 4G network, and to deploy the 5G and fibre technologies in South Africa, which has been tested by some operators,” she said.
The announcement comes not long after mobile giant MTN launched 100 5G sites around the country, including in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Gqeberha.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said the network expansion is also extending to rural and underserved areas, which will benefit communities and create jobs.
“As such, I hope that the licensing of the Wholesale Open Access Network (WOAN) and the High-Demand Spectrum will complement these rollout plans.
“In line with government’s vision of connecting 80% of public buildings by 2024, our entities will connect 6687 sites across the country.”
Spectrum to be released by end of March 2022
As per the President’s announcement during the State of the Nation Address earlier this year, the Communications and Digital Technologies Department commenced with the analogue switch-off in March this year.
To date, government has switched off a total of 32 sites in the three priority provinces. This represents 40% of the planned sites in the three priority provinces of the Free State, Northern Cape and North West.
“The analogue switch-off process is targeting to release the much-needed 700MHz and 800MHZ digital dividend spectrum.
“The spectrum will be released in a phased provincial manner across the country towards our goal of end of March 2022.
“This process, combined with the digital-to-digital migration, will make available a total of 168MHz spectrum in each of the provinces,” the Minister said.
The department is working with the TV broadcasting industry to ensure that the target of March 2022 is realised.
“This will allow spectrum availability for IMT(International Mobile Telecommunications) services on broadband, which ICASA is in the process of licensing.
“The remaining five provinces will have a voucher-system model. We are looking forward to the effective partnership with the industry and support when we begin to roll out the voucher system towards realising a successful migration process.
“We call upon everyone across the country to rally behind us when we pave the way for a better South Africa for ourselves and the future generation,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said. – SAnews.gov.za
•Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams: Communications and Digital Technologies Dept Budget Vote 2021/22
18 May 2021
Theme: “Championing Digital Economy for Societal Transformation”.
More on the topic:
•Government ready to expand 5G and fibre to all South Africans, minister says
Amanda Khoza, Presidency reporter
May 18 ,2021
Communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on Tuesday announced that R27bn had been pledged collectively by operators and vendors to expand the 4G network and to deploy 5G and fibre in SA.
“This network expansion is extending to rural and underserved areas, which will benefit communities and create jobs. As such, I hope that the licensing of the Wireless Open Access Network and the High-Demand Spectrum will complement these rollout plans,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Speaking during the tabling of her R3.7bn budget vote for the 2021/2022 financial year, the minister said the government envisaged connecting 80% of public buildings by 2024.
Providing an update on the commitments made during 2019’s budget vote, Ndabeni-Abrahamsa said: “Cabinet approved the report and the presidential commission on the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). I am pleased to inform you that the project management office has developed the consultative strategic implementation plan to ensure that the recommendations of the report are implemented by all critical stakeholders to position SA globally.”
A commitment was also made to overhaul all policies and legislation to enable digital transformation.
“We have since reviewed the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, the South African Broadcasting Corporation Bill, the South African Post Bank Amendment Bill, data and cloud policy gazetting, audio and audiovisual policy that are gazetted,” said the minister, who was also tasked with establishing a new department to drive digital transformation.
In this regard, she said a new five-year strategy, a service delivery model and a new organisational structure had been developed.
“We further undertook to reconfigure our state-owned entities to be in line with our new mandate. We have commenced with the establishment of the State Digital Infrastructure Company through which we have developed its business case and the draft bill which is in the consultation stages.”
Ndabeni-Abrahams added that progress had been made with the reconfiguration of State Information Technology Agency (SITA) into forming the State Digital Infrastructure Company. A business case and the draft bill has been developed and are in consultation stages, she said.
•Not-so-Stella: MPs not happy with communications minister’s budget
Amanda Khoza, Presidency reporter
19 May 2021
MPs were not impressed with communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams’ R3.7bn budget vote, presented on Tuesday afternoon.
Many criticised the minister’s ability to deliver on her promises, including making internet accessible to all South Africans. They also took aim at the slow pace of digital migration and the dismal performance by state-owned entities.
Praise from her political party members was expected, with ANC MP Boyce Maneli saying that in his 2021 state of the nation address President Cyril Ramaphosa had identified telecommunications as one of the areas of reform to realise the economic reconstruction and recovery plan.
“Budget votes such as these tend to focus on state-owned entities and their ability to not deliver on their targets. We also tend to focus on funds appropriated in the form of bailouts in previous years which have not led to solutions,” said Maneli.
This, said Maneli, meant that there is little focus on projects that have been successfully implemented by the government.
He welcomed the move to fast-track digital migration, saying, “This will ensure that both subsidised and unsubsidised households will digitally migrate to enjoy free-to-air channels which includes the parliament channel that they are not accessing from paid-channel services.”
But the DA’s Zakhele Mbhele said: “It is time for change.”
Mbhele added: “Now, more than ever before, it is fundamental to change and go back to basics. This is fundamentally and abundantly clear in the communications and technologies portfolio where entities are due for fundamental reform.”
He said state-owned companies needed to be turned around from being sluggish to self-sufficient, sustaining and value-adding operations.
“The truth is that with declining economic growth and tax revenue forecasts for the foreseeable future, some kind of painful change will inevitably happen down the line for these entities, whether they want it or are ready for it,” he said.
The EFF’s Vuyani Pambo said it was critical to note the continued financial failure of the department.