Communications for the poor - minister

2012-01-24 16:48
Johannesburg - The drive is on to give the poor in rural areas access to communication services, Communications Minister Dina Pule said on Tuesday.

"Our aim is to bridge the rural/urban divide by 2020 with the help of the state-owned enterprises, such as [state-owned signal distributor] Sentech and the Universal Service and Access Agency of SA," Pule said in Pretoria.

"Communications is a human right and it also facilitates development."

She said 161 "priority areas" across the country had been identified.

"We intend to establish 400 access centres, including community post offices and outlets, for rural people to access communication services."

To this end, Pule said the SA Post Office Act, signed by President Jacob Zuma in December 2011, sought to improve governance at post offices.

The commercialisation of the Postbank, which was aimed at increasing access to bank services, was progressing well, and it was expected to be licensed in 2013.

"We are working to ensure that the Postbank is registered as a fully-fledged bank that will provide affordable and accessible financial services and products."

The department was in talks with the National Treasury on investment, borrowing, and lending policies, as required by the Postbank Act of 2010.

Pule also acknowledged reports of fraud within the Postbank, and two of its executives had been seconded to investigate.

Turning to the SA Broadcasting Corporation, Pule said work had been done to make sure the turnaround strategy was progressing.

"The SABC remains high on my list of priorities. South Africa needs a well functioning SABC which discharges its public broadcasting mandate effectively. We have prioritised that all vacant executive positions be filled as a matter of urgency."

- SAPA
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