Government has finalised consultations with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to ensure allocation of spectrum reduces costs to consumers, promotes competition and eases barriers to entry.
“Government has recently decided to accelerate the licensing of the radio frequency spectrum in the 2.6Ghz, 700Mhz and 800Mhz bands to hasten the growth of mobile communications,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.
Addressing the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World Conference 2018 at the iNkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban, the President said the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is now preparing to license available high demand spectrum.
In addition, South Africa has begun work in preparation for 5G spectrum licensing as part of its efforts to build a smarter digital economy.
The ITU Telecom World conference is being hosted for the first time on the continent in order to increase the participation of other African countries, thereby increasing the possibilities of investment in information and communication technology (ICT) on the continent.
The President said the digital revolution must respond to the needs of the developing world.
“It must assist in overcoming unemployment, not exacerbate it. It must bridge the digital divide, not widen it.
“As our economies become increasingly dependent on information and communication technology, it is critical that governments work more closely with industry to maximise the value of digital innovations” he said.
The President said leaders had a task to ensure that the 4th Industrial Revolution improves the human condition and that no one is left behind.
“We firmly believe that there is a strong correlation between innovation and growth. South Africa recently embarked on an investment drive to attract $100 billion in new investment in the country over the next five years,” he said.
President Ramaphosa said the investment drive is part of a broader effort to set the economy on a new path of growth, employment and transformation.
“We are determined that the ICT sector be an integral part of this investment drive, with a focus on infrastructure investment, e-commerce, local manufacturing of equipment, and innovation.”
The President said it is important for Africa and developing countries to share manufacturing and localisation opportunities to allow equal access and shared growth throughout the world.
“We continue to champion the internet as a tool for social and economic development. We support universal broadband and universal broadcasting to connect all citizens and ensure that they have access to information,” he said.
Connectivity not a one-party effort
MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter said great efforts are needed to bridge the digital divide and foster digital inclusion in the world.
“We cannot tackle the challenges of bridging the digital divide without addressing barriers around coverage, affordability of handsets and services, as well as the education of our users.
“This endeavour is too complex to be addressed solely by governments or operators or civil society. This needs to be a shared goal. We must all work together for connectivity,” Shuter said.
The Telecom World Conference is expected to attract 7 000 delegates, including senior members of government, leaders of multilateral organisations, regulators and entrepreneurs.
Discussions and showcases will feature the latest developments in technology such as preparations for 5G networks, impact and ownership of artificial intelligence and the risks of a smarter world. It will also afford small businesses an opportunity to partner with other entrepreneurs and to seek potential investors. – SAnews.gov.za