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Disruption and the policy landscape

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Kathy Gibson reports from SATNAC in George – Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Dr Siyabonga Cwele failed to address the pressing concerns of spectrum allocation and the Broadband White Paper during his keynote address to today’s SATNAC conference. However, he hinted that competitiveness and affordability might be behind the slow progress of policy adoption.
Speaking about the recent launch of the logo and app promoting the National Development Plan White Paper, Cwele points out that government has identified ICT and broadband rollout as critical for the nine-point plan.
“But key to this is ensuring that all citizens have access to more than communication infrastructure. We are doing this in line with our constitutional principles that precludes the state from discriminating against any citizens.”
The draft integrated ICT policy white paper is now before cabinet.
“The policies seek to create an environment that enables access,” Cwele says. “They also need to facilitate more competition within the sector that will ultimately reduce the costs.
“In terms of IoT, the country’s position in regards to Internet governance is that we support the multi-stakeholder approach within different roles.”
Cwele says the fourth industrial revolution will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to each other. “It calls for business, government and society to adapt,” he says.
Although the technology is in place, and disruption is sure to come, Cwele says there are some concerns about the fourth industrial revolution.
“We are concerned about the risks of greater inequality and unemployment,” he says. “In the future, talent more than capital will be a critical factor in production.
“As a young nation, South Africa must always put people first and empower them to adapt to the new reality of the Internet of Things and the fourth industrial revolution.”
During a roundtable discussion on regulation, Cwele said it is unfortunate that the matter of the spectrum auction announced by ICASA has landed in the courts.
“It is in the courts now, and it is unfortunate we had to resort to that,” he says. “We did engage the regulator on a number of occasions, but unfortunately it had already happened.
“As a custodian of these important assets we had no choice.”
He adds that, for IoT to work both regulated and unregulated spectrum will be needed. In the content of South Africa, he says the issue of cost has to be considered.