By Staff Writer

The DA is sceptical about the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services’ (DTPS) revised South African Connect rollout plan to connect 90% of the population to the internet by 2020.

The DTPS wants to connect South Africans to the internet through the project management of a yet-to-be created state IT Infrastructure company.

On Tuesday, the new strategy for SA Connect was presented to parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services.

The state wants to build another state owned company from the existing fibre networks and infrastructure operated by state entities Broadband Infraco, Sentech, PRASA, Eskom, Sanral and Transnet.

Citing BMI-TechKnowledge, which has extensively researched and costed SA Connect’s requirements estimates that the capital funding needed for this merger at between R32,9 billion and R84,9 billion, depending on the technology used. Operational costs were calculated at between R54,8 million and R116,4 million.

“As usual, the short-sighted ANC government’s control will not yield any tangible results anytime soon, instead it will remain a major deterrent to the expansion of broadband rollout to all South Africans and exacerbate the digital divide between poorer rural communities and the internet-empowered urban areas,” DA said in a statement.

If the government was serious about rapidly rolling out broadband connectivity to the nation, DA said it would:

  • Sell Sentech and Broadband Infraco’s network;
  • Fast-track the rapid deployment guidelines to reduce red tape between all sphered of government that currently hinders infrastructure build;
  • Pressure and resource adequately the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to drive infrastructure sharing regulations between network licence holders; and
  • Incentivise the ICT sector to connect under-resourced areas.

Instead, the DA said government now wants to waste more time and public money by creating a huge state broadband company that will further delay the much-needed rollout of broadband connectivity.

The DA has always maintained that a more innovative, dynamic and inclusive strategy is needed so that South Africans can have access to the internet and the opportunities that this access will open up.




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