Spectrum framework coming, Ramaphosa promises

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 20 Jun 2019
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the first State of the Nation Address of the sixth administration.
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the first State of the Nation Address of the sixth administration.

The long-awaited policy crafting the path towards mobile spectrum allocation will be issued by the communications minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, next month.

This is the promise made by president Cyril Ramaphosa, delivering the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) to officially open the sixth democratically elected Parliament this evening.

Ramaphosa made similar promises during his last two SONAs; however, the process has been characterised by delays, with Ndabeni-Abrahams announcing last month that the policy direction on unassigned high-demand spectrum will be placed on hold for consideration in the sixth administration.

The president told the joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces wherever they have gone, young people continue raise the issue of excessive high data costs in South Africa.

They want data costs to go down, he said. “Within the next month, the minister of communications will issue the policy direction to ICASA to commence the spectrum licensing process.

“This process will include measures to promote competition, transformation, inclusive growth of the sector and universal access. This is a vital part of bringing down the costs of data. We call on the telecommunications industry to bring down the cost of data, so that it is in line with the pricing that prevails in other markets in the world,” said the president.

Mobile operators have been clamouring for spectrum for the last few years which they need to provide faster and more wide-spread high-speed data services.

Ramaphosa also spoke about climate change, saying in partnership with the private sector, labour and the international community, government will step up its adaptation and mitigation efforts.

“We have the opportunity to be at the forefront of the green growth, low carbon industrialisation and pioneering new technologies and taking quantum leaps towards the economy of the future.

“We must increase the contribution of renewables and clean energy to our national energy mix and explore the potential of the hydrogen economy as well.”

On education, Ramaphosa emphasised the need to prepare the country’s young people for the jobs of the future.

He pointed out that rapid technological change is ushering in a new world of work that is reshaping the global economy and redefining social relations. “This is why we are introducing subjects like coding and data analytics at a primary school level.”

In February, Ramaphosa highlighted that government should improve the education system to prepare the country for the digital age. As a result, he promised that government will provide every school child in South Africa with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device over the next six years.