Pretoria - Policies on information and communications technology (ICT) should be aligned with government's developmental goals and address the challenges facing the industry, says Communications Minister Dina Pule.
Speaking at the National Integrated ICT Policy Colloquium in Midrand on Thursday, Pule said the outcome of the ICT policy development process had to be aligned with government's top priorities of fighting crime and corruption, rural development, improving health and education, and creating sustainable jobs.
The final policy needed to also address issues such as increasing the number of female executives and attracting younger women in ICT sector, the minister added.
She also stressed the need for greater investment in local research, development and innovation.
The policy review was necessary to overhaul legislation in the sector so that it reflected government's work and helped the country and industry benefit from sustainable ICT development and services for the next 20 years.
"This review has to remove aspects of legislation that are irrelevant and are hindering economic growth and social cohesion while ushering in elements that are important now and those that will be significant into the future," she said.
Pule added that her department was committed to speedily finalising all the legislative and Parliamentary requirements for developing policies by the end of next year and start implementing these policies in 2014.
The department also wanted to ensure that it reviewed its policies in a consultative, open, transparent and progressive manner.
"We are doing this fully aware of our responsibility to lead and regulate this sector. Our actions should not be construed as an abdication of that noble responsibility because we are merely choosing to include all our stakeholders in this policy development process," Pule said.
Noting concerns raised about the broadband strategy, including the investment in broadband infrastructure, Pule acknowledged that more needed to be done, with speed, to propel the country into an advanced information society and knowledge economy.
Against this backdrop, the need to address the ICT policy environment in the country has been prioritised so that it addresses existing challenges and takes the country to the year 2030.
She said it was decided to start a process of developing an integrated ICT policy working with critical stakeholders, which included delegates at the colloquium.
"This ICT Policy Colloquium should result in the formulation of the White Paper on Integrated National ICT Policy. We expect to consolidate all policy on broadcasting services in the digital environment; broadband and internet access; spectrum licensing framework for the country's development; new regulatory areas in all of these; funding and investment; e-Skills development; local content development and ICT market growth," Pule added.
The policy also needed to respond to government's priority of job creation, amongst others.
"The process we are embarking upon today, the comprehensive policy overhaul, is a critical step in assisting us to design the future we want to see. It provides an opportunity to all South Africans to input in the development of a shared and common vision for the ICT sector," she said.