During the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, South African Minister of Communications Yunus Carrim detailed the nation’s plans as contained in the National Broadband Policy and Strategy, highlighting the progress made.
“The Communications Regulatory Authority of Southern Africa (CRASA) needs to be strengthened and work more effectively. In South Africa, we adopted our National Broadband Policy and Strategy, “South Africa Connect”, on 4 December 2013. It gives expression to vision in our National Development Plan (NDP) of a seamless information infrastructure by 2030 that will underpin a dynamic and connected vibrant information society and a knowledge economy that is more inclusive, equitable and prosperous,” he said.
In order to effectively launch the plans in South Africa, he explained that they took a look at other nations, and adopted the plan accordingly.
“We reviewed the broadband plans from other countries. We also consulted extensively nationally and internationally. We adopted an ecosystem approach to defining broadband by examining the entire broadband value chain (networks, services, applications and content). We have also provided for cooperation of the government and the private sector.”
But the Minister isn’t unaware the effort required to reach the goals set out in the policy. “We also realise that success in rolling out broadband depends on an appropriate market structure, clear institutional arrangements and high level state coordination across sectors. We have set broadband targets for the country which will encourage fibre deployment whilst encouraging mobile broadband rollout by releasing, over time, broadband spectrum.”
Speaking in general about the challenges faced by Africa nations to roll out broadband, he said that the plan needs to have two fundamental elements. “We have to ensure that broadband is accessible and affordable. And we must focus on increasing the awareness of our people of the value of the mobile phone and its capacity to provide internet and broadband in particular and the tremendous benefits of this.”
“And finally: it’s obviously not enough that we work more cooperatively and effectively together in the SADC countries. We also need to gradually work closer with other regional structures of Communications Ministers and relevant structures of the continent as a whole,” he concluded.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor