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ICASA reveals the state of SA's ICT sector

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National population coverage for 3G remained stable at 99.5% in 2018.
National population coverage for 3G remained stable at 99.5% in 2018.

South Africa's ICT sector continues to demonstrate dynamic growth, increasing 12% from R204 billion in 2017, to R229 billion in 2018.

This is according to the State of ICT Sector in SA 2019 report, released by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), which specifically looks at telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services.

The report notes SA's ICT sector has one of the country's biggest job markets and is one of the biggest contributors to the economy, driven by mobile services.

The report tracks the development and performance of the sector, focusing on telecoms, broadcasting and postal services, based on feedback from 96 electronic communication services and electronic communication network services in SA. Additional information is provided by Statistics SA.

Over a four-year period (2015-2019), the combined revenue for the sector increased by 6.5%, with telecommunication services revenue increasing by 6.4%, broadcasting services revenue increasing by 8.8% and postal services revenue showing a declining trend, decreasing by 3.4%.

In 2018, telecommunication services showed the highest revenue growth year-on-year out of the sector, increasing by 14.4% from R163 billion to R187 billion, while broadcasting services revenue increased marginally by 3.7% from R35 billion to R36 billion, followed by postal services revenue, which declined by 0.1% to R4.7 billion in 2018, according to the report.

Total sector revenue for the 12 months ending 30 September each year.
Total sector revenue for the 12 months ending 30 September each year.

"While the ICT sector continues to demonstrate dynamic growth, it has not necessarily met ICASA's vision of affordable access to the wide range of communication services. Though access to mobile services continues to grow, broadband access (both fixed and mobile) remains at unsatisfactory levels due to perceived high costs of communication services; in particular, data services," says Paseka Maleka, ICASA spokesperson.

"In that regard, ICASA has embarked on several interventions aimed at addressing this challenge; these are the mobile services market review processes and the regulation of data expiry and transfer rules."

Telecoms revenue

Total telecommunication revenue increased by 14.4% in 2018, with mobile services revenue increasing by 9.7%, while total fixed Internet and data revenue and fixed-line revenue decreased by 6.6% and 11.1% respectively in the same year.

Over the four-year period (2015-2018), there was a 6.4% increase in revenue, with total mobile services revenue increasing by 8.1% and total of other revenue increasing by 13.4%.

However, total fixed Internet and data revenue decreased by 4.7%.

Telecommunications revenue for the 12 months ending 30 September each year.
Telecommunications revenue for the 12 months ending 30 September each year.

Mobile services revenue

The total mobile services revenue and revenue from mobile data services increased by 9.7% and 9% respectively in 2018. Revenue from other mobile services significantly increased by 282.8% in 2018, while revenue from outbound roaming decreased by 47.4% in 2018.

For the four-year period, total mobile services revenue and revenue from mobile data services increased by 8.1% and 16% respectively. Revenue from outbound roaming decreased by 39.4% and revenue from other mobile services increased significantly by 103.3%.

Mobile services revenue for the 12 months ending 30 September each year.
Mobile services revenue for the 12 months ending 30 September each year.

Internet and data revenue

Total fixed Internet and data revenue decreased by 5.9% from R18.3 billion in 2017 to R17.2 billion in 2018.

Revenue from fixed (wired)-broadband services decreased by 2.7% respectively in 2018, while revenue from fixed (wired)-broadband services increased significantly by 9.4% over the four-year period.

Another area that took a knock was fixed-line revenue, which decreased by 11.1% from R13.7 billion in 2017 to R11.9 billion in 2018.

Fixed Internet revenue over 12 months ending 30 September each year.
Fixed Internet revenue over 12 months ending 30 September each year.

ICT employment

The ICT sector remains one of the biggest employers and contributors to the mainstream economy.

The total overall employment numbers for the three sub-sectors increased by 18.8%, from 51 993 in 2017 to 61 757 in 2018. Over the same period, employment in telecommunications increased by 20%, postal employment also showed a double-digit increase of 21.9% and broadcasting employment increased marginally by 0.3%.

Top management in the telecommunication sector increased by 52.6% from 192 in 2017, to 293 in 2018. Last year, a total of 227 people occupied top management positions in the broadcasting sector, while 34 people occupied top management positions in the postal sector.

Total employment for the sector, as of 30 September each year.
Total employment for the sector, as of 30 September each year.

Internet connectivity

With mobile Internet connectivity regarded as crucial to economic growth, the report shows national population coverage for 3G connection remained stable at 99.5% in 2018, while national population coverage for 4G/LTE increased from 76.7% in 2017 to 85.7% in 2018.

In terms of urban population coverage, seven provinces had 100% 2G coverage in 2018; namely the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern West. Only the Northern Cape and Western Cape had 2G urban population coverage just below 100% at 99.6% and 99.99%, respectively.

The Northern Cape had the lowest 3G urban population coverage at 92.24% in 2018, with the rest of the other provinces at either 100% or very close to it. Gauteng had the highest LTE urban population coverage at 99.92%, followed by Limpopo at 99.10%. The province with the lowest LTE coverage was the Northern Cape at 84.05% in 2018.

In terms of rural population coverage, Gauteng had 100% population coverage of 2G, 99.99% population coverage of 3G, with the province also having the highest population coverage of LTE at 95.74%.

National population coverage for 3G and 4G/LTE.
National population coverage for 3G and 4G/LTE.

* All graphs sourced from ICASA's State of ICT Sector in SA 2019 report.

See also