SA needs homegrown search engines, browsers - govt

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Johannesburg - Innovators in South Africa need to start developing the country’s own versions of Google and web browsers like Mozilla Firefox, says government.

In announcing Cabinet’s approval of a national ICT policy, Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele highlighted the role of an open internet and net neutrality.

As part of this, Cwele’s office also wants more homegrown technologies of key internet functions such as search engines and browsers.

“Government will also facilitate development of South African search and browser applications that provide locally-oriented content,” reads the statement from Cwele’s office.

“This will ensure that South Africa does not only become a consumer of search engines and browser products, as this presents economic losses and deprives South Africa of an opportunity to provide South Africa-specific content through such platforms,” said his office.

Cwele’s office further said that government plans to bolster the development of extra internet exchange points across more provinces.

An internet exchange allows service providers to connect directly rather than through one or more third-party networks, which helps to speed up in-country internet loading times.

ICT policy

South Africa’s new ICT policy replaces the separate White Papers on Telecommunications (1996) and Postal Services (1998).

This integrated ICT Policy outlines measures such as rolling out broadband infrastructure to all areas of the country.

The policy further promulgates an open access model that intends to allow access to existing and future networks by all players, new entrants and SMMEs.

“This policy aspect will reduce the duplications in infrastructure rollout and minimise the cost of extending the networks to reach the entire country,” said Cwele’s office last week.

“It also contains a new spectrum policy that facilitates spectrum sharing and equal access to the spectrum by all licensed operators, new entrants and SMMEs,” added his office.

The new policy is also set to include a part that deals with ‘rapid deployment’, which seeks to enable a faster and cheaper rollout of services. This part of the policy also intends to minimise bureaucracy associated with getting municipal and other permissions.

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