DA wants broadband plan

2013-04-10 20:01

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Johannesburg - The communications department should present its new plan for the proposed wireless broadband roll-out to Parliament, the DA said on Wednesday.

Business Day Live reported on Wednesday that the National Treasury had advised state signal distributor Sentech to return public funds previously appropriated for the project to the national revenue fund until the department’s policy and plan had been approved by Parliament.

This was because the government had failed to provide a national broadband strategy in time, Democratic Alliance communications spokesperson Butch Steyn said.

On Wednesday, the communications department gave the public until 3 May to submit comments on the proposed National Broadband Policy. It said provincial road shows would follow the public consultations, as part of its effort to ensure all South Africans had access to broadband services by 2020.

Steyn said as a result of the loss of R500 million in funding, the country would not reach its target of expanding broadband beyond the 15.8% of South Africans with access to technology at present.

"This has the potential to undermine economic growth and job creation," he said.

In a statement, Steyn said the National Development Plan indicated there was a need for a single cohesive strategy to ensure an effective network in all areas of society and the economy.

"Like energy and transport, information and communications technology [which includes wireless broadband] is an enabler which can speed up delivery," he said.

If expanded to the rest of the country, broadband would boost productivity, cut costs and make the distribution of goods and services more efficient, create greater access to learning tools and materials at schools and universities, and allow small businesses to tap into other markets.

Internet hotspots

Steyn said by the end of the year, 70% of provincial government buildings, rural libraries and schools in the Western Cape would be connected. There were plans to make Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Saldanha Bay wireless internet hotspots.

"Similar methods need to be implemented across the country to ensure that equal access and opportunity is created for every South African," he said.

"Communications Minister Dina Pule must take responsibility and ensure that a strategy is designed and rolled out as a matter of urgency."

Pule's spokesperson Siyabulela Qoza said the funds in question had been ring-fenced for the broadband roll-out.

"The call by minister Pule for the public to participate in the development of a national broadband policy is designed to finalise the policy," Qoza said.

"This country's plan for broadband will bring South Africa closer to the digital future and digital economy that is envisaged in the National Development Plan."

Read more on:    sentech  |  dina pule  |  internet

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