The rapid uptake and usage of data and applications-driven mobile communications is driving massive growth in the South African ICT market, which has grown to R179-billion in 2010 and is expected to reach R187-billion in 2011 and R250-billion by 2020.
“To achieve this growth target, we will implement several interventions to address the cost to communicate, access to electronic communications infrastructure and reduce barriers to entry to promote competition in the sector,” says Minister of Communications Roy Padayachie, presenting his budget speech in Parliament yesterday.
“We will further introduce in this house, amendments to the Electronic Communications Act,” he adds.
One of the challenges for South Africa, he points out, is the fact that while mobile communications continues to experience unprecedented growth rates, Internet connectivity to the home remains low.
“Many South Africans still rely on broadband services at their place of work to access the Internet, hence broadband penetration stands at approximately 5% of the population,” Padayachie says.
“Current research indicates that under conditions characterised by high cost of services, saturation in urban markets and limited access in rural areas, the rate of expansion of the Internet in South Africa will decline from above 15% to 10% per annum by 2015. This projection envisages 11,3-million Internet users by 2015, which is approximately 22% of the population.
“To address this deficit, we will work with key stakeholders which includes organised labour, civil society and academia, towards the development of a shared Vision 2020, for the country.
“To consolidate partnerships within the sector, we established an industry working group comprising representatives from the top 30 ICT companies operating in South Africa tasked with strengthening partnerships between Government and its social partners.
“We remain committed to create a partnership with the private sector as an essential step for the realisation of a common vision for the South African industry where business targets growth and government realises a developmental digital dividend for our people.”
He says government will accelerate broadband infrastructure spending, and an initial R450-million has been allocated for the provision of broadband services. An integrated broadband implementation plan, which will harmonise various broadband related initiatives, will be finalised in the current financial year.