Kathy Gibson is at Satnac in Hermanus – The private sector needs to robustly engage government on the establishment of the wireless open access network (WOAN).

Robert Nkuna, director-general of the department of telecommunications and postal services, points out that the bill relating to WOAN will come before parliament in the coming weeks.

“We are calling on industry to engage on the structure of the infrastructure,” he says. “We must not be afraid: we must go to parliament and slug it out.”

The amended ECA Act seeks to establish a hybrid model, whereby the WOAN would co-exist with industry, Nkuna adds.

He has committed to resolving the spectrum issue within the next few months, and says there will be a lot of activity in this respect in the weeks to come.

In terms of 5G, Nkuna says government is looking to the private sector to lead.

Once standards are set next year at the World Radio Conference, he believes South Africa will be one of the first countries to roll out 5G.

Nkuna explains that the department has a mandate to resolve many of the stumbling blocks ahead of the South African investment conference being planned for October.

Meanwhile, government is looking to use big data and analytics to harness the masses of data that it has access to.

“We need to start thinking about this data, and how we can use it to improve the economy of South Africa,” Nkuna says.

Going forward, he says government will deliver a data policy for South Africa, and will rely on industry to understand how to exploit big data.

SITA is being repositioned to drive this kind of innovation, Nkuna adds.