No real progress on SA Connect

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 11 Feb 2016
President Jacob Zuma faced a tough crowd as he delivered his ninth State of the Nation Address.
President Jacob Zuma faced a tough crowd as he delivered his ninth State of the Nation Address.

Government will fast-track the implementation the first phase of the national broadband plan, SA Connect, this year.

This is the only reference president Jacob Zuma made about the country's ambitious broadband rollout plan, as he delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) this evening. The president made no other mention of the ICT sector, which is in line with analysts' expectations.

Similar to National Treasury's announcement last year, Zuma reiterated that government has allocated R740 million to accelerate the first phase of SA Connect, which aims to connect more than 5 000 government facilities in eight district municipalities.

SA Connect is the national broadband policy adopted by Cabinet in 2013 to deliver 100% broadband connectivity for all schools, health and government facilities by 2020. The broadband project aims to deliver broadband access to 90% of the country's population by 2020 and 100% by 2030.

However, progress of government's big broadband push has almost entirely been limited to various uncoordinated initiatives.

While Zuma's speech has been slated for repeating old plans and revealing no turnaround strategy, during his speech the president focused on boosting economic growth.

According to Zuma the SA economy will grow by less than 1% this year.

SA still remains an attractive investment destination, he said. "We must continue to market the country as a preferred destination of investment."

Government will try and remove red-tape and any legislative blockages, Zuma added.

Meanwhile, this evening's SONA was not without its fair share of drama as Zuma's speech was delayed for an hour following disruptions from members of the National Assembly including members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Before being escorted out of Parliament members of EFF called for president Zuma to fall chanting "Zupta must fall".