Government plans to have the State Digital Infrastructure Company established by April 2023.
This is according to communications and digital technologies minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, briefly commenting on Sentech’s future at Friday’s media briefing on the progress of SA’s digital migration programme.
“From April next year, they [Sentech] will be the State Digital Infrastructure Company,” said Ntshavheni. “We’ve gotten the Cabinet approvals and are finalising a few things, so that they [Sentech] take over the role of the State Digital Infrastructure Company of the country.”
This will be the result of the merger of signal distributor Sentech and wholesale infrastructure provider Broadband Infraco (BBI).
Establishing the company is something government has been mulling for some time, backed by the communications ministry’s predecessors, including former ministers Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Dr Siyabonga Cwele.
In the 2020 National Budget, it was revealed the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) would submit to Cabinet the Bill motivating for the establishment of the state-owned digital infrastructure entity.
Later that year, the department indicated the business case for the merger of Sentech and BBI had been finalised, and was awaiting Cabinet and Parliament processes.
Last December, it was revealed that a new proposal was being considered to facilitate the process of having one state infrastructure company. At the time, the DCDT said a process that would potentially see BBI acquire Sentech was on the table.
However, no further details on this proposal were revealed.
For government, the coming together of the entities is envisaged to ensure BBI and Sentech, when merged, achieve enhanced growth in terms of revenue and profitability than they would have in their current form, as separate entities.
In addition, the company is planned to have capabilities for backhaul fibre, as well as access infrastructure, according to the DCDT.