South Africa’s Internet Service Provider Association (ISPA) has called on the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) to voluntarily adopt a proposed amendment to the ICASA Act which would require it to make minutes of ICASA Council meetings available to the public within 14 days of these being signed off.
According to Dominic Cull, ISPA regulatory advisor, the amendment – set out in the ICASA Amendment Bill 2013 currently before the Portfolio Committee on Communications – is a tangible step towards greater transparency within the regulator.
“ISPA sees no reason why ICASA should wait for the Parliamentary process to be concluded before it implements an amendment which simply represents best practice.”
Cull explained: “This level of transparency is long overdue given the influence that ICASA Council decisions can have on industry. Licensees need greater insight into ICASA’s processes and the requirement for the regulator to publish its meeting minutes is a very welcome development.
“ICASA is a key institution within our democracy. It also has the potential to be an engine for economic growth, if only efficiency could be improved. Improved efficiency would mean greater certainty for all players within South Africa’s ICT sector and the economy would benefit greatly,” said Cull.
“The proposed amendment will also enable stakeholders to know when quorums aren’t achieved at weekly council meetings and persistent no-shows will be identified,” he said.
The only proviso when it comes to the proposed publishing of Council meeting minutes is that, according to the draft ICASA Amendment Bill, confidential information determined as such under section 4D of the ICASA Act can be omitted.
“Such a proviso is obviously necessary but care will need to be taken to ensure that this is not abused.”
However, according to Jubie Matlou, Senior Manager Communications & International Relations at ICASA, the parliamentary process should be allowed to run its course.
“ICASA is not in charge of the amendment process, like everyone else we have made a submission to the Committee and we should allow the process to be completed,” he said.
Chris Tredger – Online Editor