TIME IS TICKING ON SA’S DATA BOMB, MINISTER NDABENI-ABRAHAMS

Zandile Majozi MP
IFP Spokesperson on Communications and Digital Technologies

The IFP notes with serious concern that it has been over 60 days since Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams promised Parliament that she will “speedily” issue a policy direction to ICASA for the licensing of the high demand radio frequency spectrum.

It appears that there is no political will to speed up this process as the Minister now finds herself in a spat between ICASA and herself as the main shareholder of Communications.

Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams, President Ramaphosa and the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni has therefore misled Parliament and the people of our country by saying that they will resolve the spectrum matter earlier this year.

Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams had been expected to issue the policy direction to ICASA by the end of April 2019, but at the last minute unexpectedly deferred it to after the 8 May general election. Again in July, the Minister said she will conclude the matter with ICASA during her budget vote speech.

It is clear, that she is not serious and responsive to the plight of millions of South Africans, rural and urban and in particular the youth, who cannot afford exorbitant data costs and telephone calls.

This process of opening up the spectrum, could have opened up the industry and ensure that small and medium enterprises benefit and it would significantly drive down the exorbitant costs of data.

ICASA is expected to license access to the spectrum to telecoms providers which are still waiting. 60 days have gone by and yet nothing has been done.

We urge Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams to immediately issue a directive to ICASA and to do so publicly as South Africans patience are running out.

It is unfair that South Africans are forking out the most for data on the African continent and yet it appears that Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams is unable to take charge and lead this drive in opening spectrum to lower data cost.

Contact:
Zandile Majozi MP
IFP Spokesperson on Communications and Digital Technologies
073 052 9556