Monograph: The real digital divide

22 March 2017
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On 24 January 2014, the ICT Policy Green Paper was published, setting in motion the government’s plans to introduce change in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) industry in South Africa. On 3 October 2016, the ICT Policy White Paper – the “final” version of the policy – was released to the public. The White Paper, however, when released, had two lethal defects, neither connected to its content.

The first defect was that the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), the responsible government department, had not carried out a Socio Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA), as required by Cabinet-approved policy. SEIAs are conducted to indicate to stakeholders and society what the likely outcome of the implementation of new legislation or policy will be. They force the public administration to think about the long term effects of new interventions before implementation.

The second defect was that, in the formulation of the White Paper, the DTPS did not consult with industry roleplayers or the public. They did do so, however, during the formulation of the Green Paper, the Discussion Paper, and the Review Report, which makes this departure from established, constitutionally-required procedure bizarre. The White Paper includes several industry-altering (potentially industrydestroying!) aspects added between the Review Report and the White Paper that the public was given no opportunity for participation.

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