Following the unveiling of the ICT Gaps, USAASA’s CEO Zami Nkosi has invited disseminated a discussion document for comment from licensed operators.
According to Nkosi, these inputs will prove critical to the finalisation of the National Strategy on Universal Service and Access due for the presentation to the Minister of Communications in the near future.
“As mentioned before the Universal Service and Access Strategy is a Board project undertaken to research and design a comprehensive turn-around strategy for the Agency and Government as whole in support of the National Development Plan (NDP). It is for all intents and purposes a direct response to a policy expression in the form of the National Development Plan, the New Growth Path, and a legal requirement in terms of section 82 (3, 4, & 5) of the ECA, 2005. It is an integral part of the USAF project planning process” he says.
“Given the magnitude of the access gap it is crucial that government rope in the private sector as it maps out a solution to close the identified gaps.”
The Agency established in terms of the Electronic Communications Act of 2005 had previously reported on the project, its aims and some of its findings.
According to Board Chairperson, Pumla Radebe, “We have reviewed the legislative and regulatory framework of the country as well as the access gaps. It is these two sets of data that form the basis for the proposed programmes specifically designed to close the gaps.”
This consultation with the licensed telecoms and broadcasting operators is the first of its kind since the inception of the organization as is the development of a comprehensive business case supporting the mandate of the organization.
Operators formed part of USAASA’s primary consultations at the onset of the project. The present engagement serves as feedback on findings and an invitation to the sector for inputs and comments on programme definition.
The National Strategy on Universal Service and Access seeks to achieve the following:
Develop a Universal Service and Access Strategy that will inform the Agency and its stakeholders on programmes, policies and the concomitant modus operandi to ensure that ICTs are available, accessible and affordable to all citizens of the country;
Identify, assess, qualify and quantify access gaps with a view to review implementation models for achieving digital inclusivity against pre-determined indicators;
Position the mandate in the greater ICT landscape and benchmark it against international norms and standards;
Advise on the optimal operational arrangement to deliver on the strategy and the type of implementation plan required to bridge the divide;
Position the Agency as the facilitator of universal service and universal access programmes and projects in the country; and
Ensure coordination of universal service and universal access programmes and projects in order to address the lack of coordination that characterizes the current scenario.
Interested parties can access the Discussion Document in the Agency’s download centre on www.usaasa.org.za