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ICT Vision 2020: The dialogue begins

Industry and government to join hands to create a new vision for the ICT industry.

Hundreds of representatives of the ICT and broadcasting industries and government will come together in Sandton on Friday, 16 October, to create a new vision for these industries. Companies and individuals with interests in these industries are urged to participate in this initiative to create a roadmap for these industries' long-term growth and development.

Gen (Ret) Siphiwe Nyanda, Minister of Communications, will headline this event, which heralds a new era of co-operation and dialogue between government, industry and civil society, to set clear targets and goals for bridging the widening digital divide in South Africa and creating sustainable jobs through the development of the ICT industry.

ICT Vision 2020 will be a year-long process of dialogue and engagement that will be launched at an Industry Forum on Friday. The forum is being conducted jointly by the industry associations active in these industries, and the Department of Communications. They will be partners in setting clear goals and targets for the South Africa ICT and broadcasting industries towards 2020, and developing a roadmap to achieve this vision. This forum follows from Minister Nyanda's plan, as announced in his budget speech in June of this year, to develop an Integrated National ICT Policy Framework.

Under the direction of the minister and the Department of Communications, ICT Vision 2020 will be:

1. A roadmap for the ICT industry's long-term development and growth, and ultimately, that of South Africa as a leading country in the information era.
2. Entails the development by industry, in partnership with government, of a unified vision and strategy towards clearly defined goals and an aspirational vision of the industry to be achieved by 2020.
3. Will include research on various components of the industry; local and international factors that will affect it in future; and identify the best options that can be followed for future development.

This is a project of national importance. South Africa has been declining in the ranks of the Global ICT Development Index (IDI) in recent years. In 2002, it ranked 77th and fell to 87th place in year 2007. At the same time, many developing countries increased their IDI ranks, and South Africa is being surpassed by other countries on the continent.

There are many reasons for the decline, including high prices and the slow growth of Internet and broadband services. One other factor has been the low levels of trust and co-operation between government and the private sector ICT industry, which has often been marked by courtroom skirmishes. Now, government has committed to joining hands with industry and civil society to overcome these challenges.

The roadmap is an initiative of the South African Communications Forum (SACF), an industry association that includes members from across the spectrum of the ICT and broadcasting industries. In its 15-year history, SACF has been at the forefront of policy issues that have an impact on these industries, and in promoting the transformation of these industries. During the forum, which will begin at 9:30am on Friday, participants will establish participation protocols, an Advisory Board, and Working Groups.

Lucky Masilela, the Chairperson of the SACF, emphasised that the process needed to be as inclusive as possible, and invited any companies with interest in drawing up a strategy for the industry and raising issues of major concern to attend the forum and the dinner to be held with Minister Nyanda this Friday.

Only registered guests will be able to participate in both the forum and the dinner. Companies or individuals interested in attending should register their attendance as a matter or urgency to Lerato Mekhoe, Events Manager at ForgeAhead, by e-mail Lerato@forgeahead.co.za. She is also available on +2711 231 8985.

For further information, media please contact Loren Braithwaite Kabosha at lorenb@icon.co.za

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