Cutting data costs a government priority - Patel

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Cape Town - Government will prioritise bringing down data costs as part of developing an economy in line with the fourth industrial revolution, says Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel.

Patel spoke on efforts made to develop the economy to be more inclusive during the debate in Parliament on Monday, following the State of the Nation Address.

One area of global development includes the digital revolution and South Africa should not fall behind in building an economy for the 20th century while competitors are focused on the economy of the future, he explained.

“Technology is changing economies and society in a deep and fundamental way,” Patel said. “The digital economy is a key driver of the fourth industrial revolution. Thus bringing down data costs is a priority for the year ahead,” said Patel.

Government will focus on bringing down data costs through the competition market inquiry into data services, he explained.

Government also plans to expand the infrastructure for data by finalising the release of a new telecommunications spectrum.

Patel recognised that the digital revolution could create digital divides, but said it also provides “enormous" potential developments. South Africa should harness this potential.

Further to preparing South Africa to get ready for the fourth industrial revolution, in the next 12 months government will develop a skills framework for future jobs. This is a social plan to address disruptions to labour markets and workplaces that flow from new technologies, he explained.

Government will also invest in research and development to develop the intellectual property base for the economy. Government will provide funding for venture capital projects involved in technology as well, said Patel.

Additionally, government plans to complete the process of digital migration.  

Government will work with the digital industrial revolution commission and arrange a session to brief Parliament on the progress made in the work done related to the fourth industrial revolution, said Patel. 

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