Free Market Foundation
Media Background Briefing Paper
National Integrated *ICT Policy White Paper published October 2016
*Information and Communication
What the media and public need to
Purpose of document
This document aims to provide a background and context on the National
Integrated ICT Policy White Paper, for the media to understand what is at
stake, inform the public and other stakeholders and ask the right questions of
government. Everyone needs to be aware of the contents and implications.
Contents: ICT Policy / Media Q&A
Market Foundation (FMF) interest in ICT Policy
What’s happening in ICT?
is ICT policy important?
Policy in a nutshell
of the White Paper (WP)
is WOAN and why is it significant?
Access – what does this mean?
is spectrum and why the big deal?
role of government
has been industry reaction?
about public and industry consultation?
is a SEIA and why so critical?
bodies and new fund
about ICASA and others?
about the new fund?
competition lacking in the mobile industry?
what’s good in the White Paper?
are the “stated intentions” that are “good”
Key questions for the media
1: Socio Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA)
1. Free Market Foundation (FMF) interest in
The FMF is a policy analysis institute primarily dedicated to (a)
preventing counter-productive government intervention, taxation and spending,
and (b) constitutionalism, due process and the rule of law. As such we are
concerned with all new policy. We are responding to threats of mobile data
price control and, more importantly, to the far-reaching implications of the
White Paper which introduces greater state control and fewer independent
institutions. It also proposes what amounts to nationalisation of the vital
communications infrastructure and expropriation of private assets.
The FMF is particularly concerned with the lack of the Cabinet mandated
Socio Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) required to precede all new policy.
Despite calls for a SEIA, the Department of Telecommunications and Postal
Services (DTPS) has yet to produce this and it appears unlikely that it has
We are also concerned about whether the Policy followed due process, has
complied with the Constitution and followed the rule of law.
2. Context “This Policy
has the potential to eradicate the advances of SA’s Internet success story”
National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper is bad policy. It places government
in control of a critical economic sector, effectively nationalises a private
industry, creates a government monopoly, proposes to expropriate private
property, introduces a new fund raised from private companies into government
hands, scraps existing independent regulator ICASA, introduces regulatory
complexity and new government controlled institutional bodies, lacks clarity
and essential detail, failed to consult properly on key proposals, lacks a
mandated Socio Economic Impact Assessment, and opens the door to more
corruption and patronage.
a variation is being piloted in one African country and under different
circumstances, in its current form the proposed model is untried and untested
anywhere in the world. There are questionable backroom dealings and vested
interest agendas. If enacted as it is, the policy will damage, if not destroy,
a successful private sector industry and create another SAA, Eskom and Post
Office. Mobile consumers will face deteriorating coverage and quality of access
and miss out on new technologies and developments. Data prices are likely to
rise, not fall. The industry is stunned.
Information Technology (IT) in South Africa
IT is arguably the greatest playing-field-leveller the world has known.
It is hard to think of anything which has done more to reduce inequality –
virtually everyone can now afford benefits that never existed a few years or
decades ago, and, when introduced, were accessible only to the rich. The world
is headed for “the internet of things” – virtually everything will to some
extent be data-driven and connected. It is crucial, if we are to keep up with
the world’s most rapidly-advancing field, to “get it right”. The world’s
experience shows that private competition is overwhelmingly better than rather
bureaucratic monopolies. Yet, South Africa is set to move this critical sector
towards a government-controlled monopoly. The new nationalized network is
another SAA, Eskom, Post Office in the making.
3. What’s happening in ICT?
In October 2016, the DTPS published
the ICT Policy White Paper (the WP). This introduces radical new directives,
which will have far reaching consequences for the ICT sector. Minister of
Telecommunications and Postal Services Cwele intends to start work on a Bill to
implement the policy in March 2017.
Time is short for action.
Everyone will be affected: consumers,
business, schools, higher education and industry – the entire SA economy.
This is not just an IT issue. The media,
the business sector and consumers need to pay attention to what is happening in
the ICT space because the implications are dramatic.
What is ICT?
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) provides the framework
and infrastructure for every aspect of mobile technological communications in
society including business, education, media, broadcasting, government and much
ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) is an
umbrella term that includes any communication device or application,
encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware
and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and
applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance
learning. ICTs are often spoken of in a particular context, such as ICTs in
education, health care, or libraries.
Why is ICT policy important?
SA’s Internet success story is one of
the few since 1994 in terms of coverage, quality and access to mobile devices
and out performs many of its developing country peers. It ain’t broken!
The National Integrated ICT Policy
White Paper (the WP) sets out the framework for the development of South
Africa’s ICT industry.
This industry provides the
infrastructure, technologies, products, services and expertise that run the
country’s access to and use of the Internet and mobile communications of any
The WP sets out how high demand
spectrum will be allocated.
It is an essential part of the
What happens in the ICT space affects
It is likely to be challenged in
court meaning even more delays.
Anything else? Yes!
The industry and the economy as a
whole is in urgent need of clarity and certainty on how ICT policy will unfold
and be implemented.
The industry has been waiting for four
years to receive clarity on government policy, meanwhile technology
advances at an ever-faster rate.
However, the WP sets out what amounts
to a wish list without providing the desperately needed clarity and finality on
what will happen. The “how” is missing – even for a white paper.
Also, the government, via the DTPS,
is taking control of what has been a successful private sector, but the DTPS is
the same department that has failed to deliver on a single SA Connect goal and
gave us the Postal Services.
If implemented in its current form,
data prices are likely to rise, not fall, as competition will be curtailed
among the essential infrastructure.
Policy in a nutshell
Government move to centralise and
control ICT sector.
Another state-owned enterprise in the
Nationalisation and expropriation of
Another government created
disincentive for essential investment.
Disruption and damage to a successful
Creates another opportunity for
corruption and patronage.
Dubious backroom dealings and agendas.
No sign of Cabinet-mandated Socio Economic
Impact Assessment (SEIA).
Industry stunned by the Policy.
Cannot separate the cost of data from
ICT Policy. In current form likely to push costs up.
South Africa is getting a model
untried and untested anywhere in world.
May be unconstitutional and contrary
to the rule of law.
Legal challenge likely.
Essential investment is threatened:
certainty and incentives absent.
The White Paper is 180 pages of often
- Another state owned enterprise is in
the making when the government effectively nationalises the network infrastructure
and expropriates the private assets of the big players – MTN and Vodacom. Look
out for WOAN – Wireless Open Access Network.
Essential investment will dry up as
private sector incentive to improve and maintain infrastructure will be removed
under open access (WOAN). Say goodbye to fast, reliable – and cheap – mobile
access and new technologies.
A new fund to be created to drive
access in rural areas – funded by the private sector and managed and controlled
by – yes – the government – another opportunity for corruption and patronage.
ICASA and other independent industry
bodies to be scrapped and their roles and responsibilities managed by new
government bodies and the DTPS.
Government through the DTPS will control this critical sector – the department
that brought us the success story of the SA Postal Services.
Questionable behind the scenes
dealings and political agendas at play; vested interests appear to be driving
This new WOAN infrastructure has not
been successfully implemented anywhere
in the world. And where something similar has been tried, it has failed.
Yet the Minister insists it has. Where is the “evidence” he talks about?
Lack of proper consultation required
by the Constitution and that three critical policies appeared only in the final
White Paper – not in the Review Report, which followed the Green Paper.
Critical Constitutional questions
around due process, the rule of law and separation of powers.
The Cabinet mandated SEIA (Socio
Economic Impact Assessment) is missing and believed not to have been done. All
new policies and laws require a SEIA.
The White Paper is a wish list of
admirable intentions but absolutely no detail or thought of how to implement.
Behind closed doors in December, the Minister told industry representatives
that he had no implementation plan, but that the Policy was a “done deal” and
that – they – should come up with a plan. Rather like asking turkeys to plan
Christmas for the major operators.
While there are some good elements
and no one can argue with the stated intentions, the policy in its current form
will not deliver – and worse – is counter-productive in several key aspects.
The big issues
The ICT Policy White Paper contains
proposals that will have a far reaching and mostly negative impact on the
industry especially the mobile network operators (MNOs): Vodacom, MTN, Cell C
and Telkom. These are the guys who pay for the infrastructure today.
The large MNOs invest billions every
year to build, maintain and improve the network infrastructure. Mobile networks
require huge investment. MTN and Vodacom spent R20 bn last year combined.
The Policy amounts to nationalization
and expropriation of private assets (infrastructure, technology and spectrum).
The WP contains policies that will
seriously impact the provision of this essential investment, which means that
SA users will be negatively affected.
Forget fast, cheap, reliable mobile Internet
access via cell phones, tablets laptops and other devices, SA will fall behind
its peers and users will have to wait for the latest technological advancement.
Maintenance, upgrading and new
infrastructure will all be impacted.
And – there is no precedent anywhere
in the world.
Anything else? Yes!
It appears that politics, vested
interests and private agendas may be behind some of the more radical policy
Inter departmental and inter-agency power
squabbles and power struggles appear to be at play and impeding effective
4. Contents of the White Paper
Most of the key contentious
proposals are contained chapter 9 – Opening Access: Infrastructure and
There are five key areas of
concern in the White Paper:
A significantly expanded government
role – in the form of the DTPS – which brought you the renowned SA Postal Service!
Fundamental government interference
with wholesale private sector markets.
The development of a nationalised
wholesale operator – WOAN: Wireless Open Access Network.
The involuntary return of spectrum
currently under license to MNOs.
A nationalised government managed
fund to drive infrastructure spending in rural areas – a perfect opportunity
for patronage and corruption.
Three of the most critically-important issues only appeared in final
White Paper and had no public
and industry consultation (see below):
The move to implement WOAN: Wireless Open
Access must be offered at cost based
Taking back spectrum already
allocated to operators who have invested heavily in this infrastructure.
What is WOAN and why is it significant?
WOAN = Wireless Open Access Network.
Instead of the current situation where the MNOs own large chunks of the
infrastructure for their own use to provide for their own customer base, the
government proposes a new model in which the network will be “owned” by a
“public / private” partnership. So the MNOs will be asked to donate their
private assets in a government-controlled network in return for a consideration
or share – and hey presto – a new nationalised industry.
Just what SA needs when the current crop spent R 47 billion on
“unauthorised expenditure” in 2016. A whole new SAA / SABC / Eskom in the
And this means what?
Well, for a start, there is no clarity on what basis this “return” might
be. In proportion to what they put in? Their BEE status? Friends in high
places? Political connections?
And in addition, since the MNOs will no longer own the network, this
means the large operators will stop investing their billions and the
infrastructure will deteriorate. Why
should they? Would you? This is a private business, not a charity.
And the WP introduces “cost-based” pricing?
What’s that? Is it important?
Currently the MNOs fund network infrastructure, provide services and
make profits. In some cases, they allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to
share their infrastructure on a commercial basis. Now that “commercial basis”
will be replaced by “cost-based” pricing. Commercial and competitive investment
incentives will be removed. Again, would you put your money in?
So why WOAN? Obviously it’s been a success elsewhere?
Far from it. Despite Minister Cwele’s assertions, there has been not a
single successful implementation of a WOAN – anywhere. The only example is
happening in a remote African country and is far cry from being rolled out. The
Minister cites Mexico, Rwanda, and Russia, but not one of these examples is
Who will pay for WOAN?
A good question… government can’t. Ask Pravin Gordhan. And the private
sector probably won’t.
Open Access – what does this mean?
Even industry experts are not sure what it means in the context of the
WP. But, in general, it means the sharing of information, facilities and
services on an equal basis. No one has an advantage.
This means that the sector will be based on service competition rather
than network competition – or more simply – it removes the incentive for
network providers, MNOs, to provide the best network possible. Why should they?
Would you – just so your competitors can benefit?
It stands normal business behaviour on its head.
Why do some players think
this is a good idea?
The idea of “open access” is predictably appealing to (some) ISPs
because they hope it will give them enhanced opportunities for expansion and
market share. This might be myopic because
(a) discretionary/administrative allocation might harm the best and reward the
(b) might entail short-term gain for long-term pain. In other words, they might
find themselves stripped of the benefits of a dynamic, technologically
cutting-edge world, and plunged into a static, stifling bureaucratic world.
What is spectrum and why the big deal?
Spectrum is the lifeblood of the mobile communications industry. MNOs
cannot function without it and pay huge license fees to get it. The government
is concerned that too much high demand spectrum is in private hands – the MNOs
– and intends the WOAN to be a way to open up access to this lucrative sector for
communications signals travel over the air via radio frequency, or spectrum.
The TV broadcast you watch, the radio program you listen to, the GPS device
that helps get you where you're going, and the wireless phone service you use
to make phone calls and check Facebook from your smartphone – all use invisible
airwaves to transmit bits of data through the air. Mobile phones work much the
Wireless operators, such as MTN and Vodacom, cannot
transmit wireless signals over the same frequencies in the same markets at the
same time. This would be a little like KFC, Wimpy and McDonald’s serving
takeaways via a single drive-thru’ window.
ICASA regulates the licensing and use of spectrum in
SA in the mobile phone market and sells licenses to use the spectrum to mobile
operators for huge fees.
ICASA also decides which frequencies of spectrum can
be used for which purposes, within the international standards for spectrum
usage agreed at the ITU (International Telecommunications Union). For mobile
phones, it has allocated spectrum generally between 700 MHz and 2.6 GHz. Most
of the spectrum in this range has already been allocated for use. This means
that when a wireless company wants to add more spectrum to its service to boost
its capacity, there isn't much more available spectrum that can be used and the
companies have to re-farm existing facilities, but this is limited. Eventually
the ceiling is reached.
And as more consumers buy smartphones and tablets,
there is a greater need for spectrum. Much of the best spectrum for
transmitting mobile signals has already been licensed to wireless carriers or
it's being used by TV broadcasters or government agencies, hence government
desire to control further allocation.
As a result, the industry says there is a spectrum
shortage in urban areas. Any shortage in any industry leads to increasing
prices and data is no different.
Lack of spectrum is a direct result
of government failure to allocate spectrum efficiently. This raises costs for
network operators, which costs are passed-on to consumers. The White Paper
proposes nationalisation of all spectrum and discretionary allocation instead
of competitive allocation.
The government has not accepted
responsibility, or even acknowledged, its role in the lack of available
spectrum. Instead, it proposes to take back spectrum already allocated to MNOs
and paid for by them.
Last year the Minister and industry
regulator went to court. ICASA wanted to put the available spectrum up for
competitive auction. The Minister sought to prevent it. A decision is expected soon. ICASA recently
announced that they will delay their auction.
The WP will mean that the government
gets to decide which companies get this valuable resource.
This is discretionary allocation –
and an opportunity for yet more corruption and patronage?
Essentially, this is
the nationalisation of spectrum in South Africa.
Expanded role of government
Government’s scope of oversight and its role are
significantly expanded through the establishment of committees and the transfer
of functions from statutory bodies to the DTPS.
All policy related functions are to be centralised
within the DTPS.
There will be a range of new committees established.
The scope of government oversight and interference
across the ICT sector will dramatically increase.
What has been industry reaction?
The move away from a competition-based
market to one controlled by government via a monopolistic structure, which will
threaten existing successful business models.
The intention to take back previously
allocated spectrum from license holders who have paid out huge sums. See above
The lack of consultation – despite
what the Minister says.
What about public and industry consultation?
The DTPS insists all proper consultation has taken place – but the
industry says not, and that key policies were not included until the final
The facts speak for themselves.
Publication dates of ICT Policy Public Documents
o 24 January 2014, the National Integrated ICT Policy Green Paper
o 14 November 2014 the ICT Policy Discussion Paper.
o 20 March 2015 the Policy Review Report
Between 20 March 2015 and 3 October 2016 three critical policies were
inserted into the final WP and had no public or industry consultation that
insiders are aware of. But some say, as with all consultation, government can
pick the bodies to suit its needs and which will deliver the desired result.
Therefore, government is able to say all proper consultation has taken place.
The move to implement WOAN: Wireless
Open Access Network.
Access must be offered at cost-based
Taking back spectrum already
allocated to operators who have invested heavily in this infrastructure.
Final publication 4:
o Approved by Cabinet 28 September 2016 and published 3 October 2016.
Isn’t public consultation required by the
The White Paper has several provisions, which were not raised in the
Green Paper or the public participation process (above).
They may therefore not be in compliance with:
The constitutional requirement that
policies must be informed by public participation.
All new policies must be preceded by
a properly conducted socio-economic impact assessment (SEIA) (see above) in
accordance with the strict requirements of the Presidency’s guidelines.
The constitution requires a
separation of powers. Elements of the White Paper might envisage an
unconstitutional allocation of powers.
So – was this process “proper
It may yet be decided in court which would tie up the industry in many
years of litigation – not good for South African consumers of mobile Internet.
The industry is still stunned and the MNOs are in a state of shock. MNOs
have built their business models on the basis of owning the license to spectrum
and freedom to compete. On this basis, they invest in enhancing and maintaining
the network infrastructures and introducing new technologies.
Now – the government wants it back.
The Minister says the industry has
generally welcomed the Policy – not so?
Publically, most in the industry welcomes the WP as at least a start to
move the industry forward and out the current log jam that cannot continue.
Beyond this, interests and reaction differ. But the Minister appears to be
using this general welcome as a green light from the industry. This is
disingenuous to say the least.
The industry is divided into those whose current business models are
under threat from WOAN and the return of spectrum – the MNOs – and those who
see opportunities to market their products and services on the back of existing
infrastructure, specifically the WISPs – wireless internet service providers.
This is a short term view – although they don’t seem to see it – if the MNOs
stop investing in infrastructure then benefits will do dry up, as the network
gets old and lack maintenance and development. Who will do this? Government?
Not likely. No funds!
There is talk of major BEE players close to government who are eyeing up
the spoils of a lucrative private sector and that this may be behind the move
Some quotes from industry figures – do these sound
like a warm welcome?
Network providers, who provide nearly
the entire population with network coverage, say they will not continue
investing without relative freedom and security:
Vodacom’s Jannie van Zyl: “[Vodacom]
would stop building base stations”.
MTN’s Mteto Nyati said they would
have “to densify at the expense of existing and expanded services”.
Cell C’s Jose Dos Santos: “Consumers
would be denied devices, products and services when launched globally”.
Adrian Schofield, Vice President
IITPSA: “Like 25 years ago, government is trying to control, not facilitate,
the communications sector.”
Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn
deplored the policy as “monopolistic” and “unconstitutional”. It would not
“bridge the digital divide or bring affordable, ubiquitous communications to
Dobek Pater, MD of Africa Analysis:
“The policy hadn’t been “tested anywhere”, not even in Mexico and Rwanda as
alleged by the minister.
Macquarie Group’s Richard Majoor: “Operators
will invest only if “spectrum is treated as private property” warned.
Research ICT Africa: “The policy
would ‘threaten investment and innovation’ and that spectrum should rather be ‘urgently
released to operators.’”
Charley Lewis, a member of the ICT
Policy Review Panel, called it a “far cry from what we recommended.”
There are many more.
What is a SEIA and why so critical?
Socio Economic Impact Assessments (SEIAs)
deal with the costs versus the benefits of proposed legislation.
Since October 2015,
a Cabinet resolution has been in place to the effect that all new laws and
policies have to be preceded by a SEIA. A special unit has been created in the
planning department to supervise and advise organs of state. SEIAs have to
comply with Guidelines produced by the Presidency.
FMF executive director Leon Louw, one
of South Africa’s leading experts on impact assessments and global best
“SEIAs are not clearly a
Constitutional requirement. However according to Section 33* all administrative
action must be fair and reasonable. If this is applied to policy formation, it
can be argued that there must be something amounting to a SEIA. It has been
suggested in an informal counsel opinion that it would be unfair and
unreasonable to adopt policies without proper consideration of costs and
benefits, constitutionality, evidence and more”.
More detail in Appendix 1.
6. Industry bodies and new fund
What about ICASA and others?
All of the existing industry bodies are being replaced and / or taken
over by other non-independent bodies and the DTPS. Current regulator ICASA’s
independent role will absorbed into a new Economic Regulator under the DTPS and
government via DTPS will perform other responsibilities. The recent and
continuing spat and court case between ICASA and the Minister may be behind
this move. Once implemented, ICASA won’t exist anymore and the spectrum
allocation tussle will simple go away. It will be in government hands.
What about the new Fund?
The proposal is for a Digital Development Fund
(DDF) managed by DTPS and funded by a much increased levy on all operators, not
just licensed ones. (Currently a Universal
Service and Access Fund (USAF) is
managed by USAASA (Universal Service and Access Agency of SA), and funded by a levy on revenues of
We know who will manage it – government. But who will fund it? Some
analysts speculate that it will be network provider funds. Why would they
provide funds if they are not beneficiaries? Maybe by charging high license
fees? That would not defeat the stated objectives of the White Paper by driving
up costs. SA’s economic realities are that the government will not be able to
provide much funding from taxes.
Instead they should be encouraging private investors to provide all or
most of the capital needed by opening rather than nationalising and
monopolising entry and unleashing “market power”.
7. Is competition lacking in the mobile
There is a mistaken belief that the number of players in an industry
determines the level of competitiveness. It doesn’t. In basic economic theory,
it is the ease of entry that matters.
That competition exists, is evident by the multitude of different prices
/ bundles / pre-paid / contracts special offers on offer from many different
suppliers. Some of these suppliers piggyback on the main MNOs e.g. Afrihost.
The economic case for market-based
competition in ICT – and everything else
As a rule, the interests of consumers and the country are best served by
what the renowned SA economist, William Hutt, called “consumer sovereignty”.
Having studied under him, Raymond Ackerman (Pick ’n Pay) coined the slogan “the
consumer is king/queen”. What consumers and a country generally benefit from
most is consumer-driven (as opposed to regulator-driven) selection through a
“spontaneous market order” of products, services to and providers. Consumers
include intermediaries such as ISPs.
what’s good in the White Paper?
The desire to move the industry
forward and connect all citizens and include them into the digital society?
Yet, the policies may in fact hamper this laudable
Network neutrality* perhaps?
Yet, in its pure form this will mean the surgeon
performing to remote heart surgery would have the same priority as your Uber
request. The consensus is that there
will have to be some form of prioritizing traffic, and, inevitably, this will
be based on price.
Now this is a good intention – if it happens.
Rapid Deployment Policy is intended to:
Provide open access to all infrastructure.
Accelerate competitive service expansion.
Lead to the creation of a centralized GIS database
that will provide a database on all infrastructure in SA.
What are the “stated intentions” that are “good”?
Overall, the intentions are worthy, however some of the policies are
counter-intuitive to meet the intentions.
For example – the Minister wants more competition
– so he is proposing a government-controlled monopoly structure.
Inclusion: open the sector to allow
more SMEs, black entrepreneurs and BBB companies to enter and operate in this
Allow better, cheaper access for rural
and under-served areas and the poorer in society.
Bring in more competition.
Better and more fair allocation of
Achieve the 2030 SA Connect goals
(none have been implemented so far).
9. So what now?
Minister Cwele says the Policy is a
“done deal” and will not allow any further discussion on the Policy only on
implementation. Yet, a plan does not exist and he asked the industry to provide
one – rather like asking turkeys to plan Christmas for the MNOs.
He intends to move very quickly on
drafting a Bill to enact legislation.
The media has a significant role to
play and needs to hold the Minister and the DTPS to account and ask the right
questions – see list below.
Otherwise, consumers of mobile data,
mobile access to the Internet, SA’s role in the Internet of Things, SA’s
Internet success story and the roll out of the newest, fastest latest
technologies are all under threat. The rest of the world will leave us behind.
10. Key questions for the media
is the SEIA – has one been done?
Why is SA adopting a model that has
no proven success stories and no case studies anywhere in the world?
Why usurp a successful model that has
delivered almost 99% quality coverage and universal access?
The model does not follow
international best practice, especially in spectrum allocation
There are no successful case studies
only fledgling pilots – where is Minster Cwele’s evidence?
Why was there no consultation on the
three critical policies between the Green Paper discussion report and the final
Who wrote the White Paper?
When will there be clarity on new
On what basis will spectrum be
Who will monitor this and will the
process be transparent?
When will spectrum currently used by
broadcasting be fully utilized?
How will the government ensure the financial
efficiency and accountability of the new Digital-DF, which previous precedents
(USA, USAASA) struggled with? Will merely reporting to the DTPS be sufficient?
Should there be Parliamentary oversight over the new fund? Who will ensure the
fund is not used to gain political support by allocating funds to project
sponsors who support the government?
Independent ICASA responsibilities appear to be taken
over by the DTPS – is this wise when DTPS has not delivered on a single goal
for SA Connect?
Existing ICT institutions, including
the regulator, are weak and don’t talk to each other – capacity is lacking.
Will the new ones be any better?
How will the government ensure that
there is no duplication of effort between the new institutions and failure to
coordinate activities as has existed in the past?
When will essential detail and
clarity be provided on roles, responsibilities and functions of the new
There is scope for duplication of functions may arise
between the proposed Economic Regulator and the Competition Commission. Who
will monitor this?
Is 100% net neutrality a good idea?
What about essential services e.g. medical services?
Why has the Minister publically
stated that, while this Policy is a done deal and all consultation will now
focus on implementation yet he stated that the DTPS has no idea how to
implement it and asked the industry for help and ideas?
Could it be that the muted response
from some parts of the industry to the WP is because it is 180 pages of complex
and inaccessible language? They can’t understand it!
Are vested interests driving this
policy? Who are they?
Are Cabinet egos at play here? Seems
all ministers need a “big idea”.
Was policy rushed out because no
action taken on SA Connect or other targets? Four years in the making.
Minister Cwele says the industry has
welcomed the policy – is this accurate?
Appendix 1: Socio Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA)
There are two aspects:
There is a Cabinet resolution to the
effect that all new laws and policies have to be preceded by a SEIA. A special
unit has been created in the planning department to supervise and advise organs
of state. SEIAs have to comply with Guidelines produced by the Presidency.
The Guidelines are good. However,
there are various implementation problems, such as the fact that (a) SEIAs are
not published, (b) there's no public participation in their production and (c)
they are not done by an independent agency.
This interpretation of the section has not been testing in court.
Section 33 of the Constitution reads as follows:
Just administrative action:
Everyone has the right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and
(2) Everyone whose rights have been adversely affected by administrative
action has the right to be given written reasons.
(3) National legislation must be enacted to give effect to these rights,
and must -
(a) provide for the review of administrative
action by a court or, where appropriate, an independent and impartial tribunal;
(b) impose a duty on the state to give effect to the rights in
subsections (1) and (2); and
(c) promote an efficient administration.
South African SEIA history
1998: Good Law Project research
starts under acting executive director Leon Louw
±2000: DTI briefs Leon Louw
±2002: Department of Finance takes
±2003: Presidency (Mbeki) takes over
2007: Presidency approves RIAs
2010: Labour law RIAs (Regulatory
Impact Assessments) (dismissed!)
2015: Mandatory SEIAs announced
2016: Secretariat says all new
measure have SEIAs
June 2015-Mar 2016: 117 SEIAs
SEIAs not published (as required)
Appendix 2: Glossary
DDF – Digital Development Fund
DTPS – Department of
Telecommunications and Postal Services
ICASA – Independent Communications
Authority of South Africa
ICT – Information and Communication
ISP – Internet Service Provider
IT – Information Technology
ITU – International Telecommunications
Union (United Nations specialised agency for information and communication
MNO – Mobile Network Operator
USAASA – Universal Service and Access
Agency of South Africa, a State Owned Entity of government established through the
Electronic Communications Act to ensure that "every man, woman and child
whether living in the remote areas of the Kalahari or in urban areas of Gauteng
can be able to connect, speak, explore and study using ICTs
USAF – Universal Service and Access
Fund (was established under the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) to fund
projects and programmes that strive to achieve universal service and access to
ICTs by all South Africans)
RIA – Regulatory Impact Assessment
SEIA – Socio Economic Impact
WOAN – Wireless Open Access Network
WP – White Paper
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