South Africa's information and communications technology (ICT) policies are up for review, Communications Minister Dina Pule said on Monday.
“Like many other countries, we have taken a decision to review and overhaul our ICT policies. We want the policies to deliver our progressive goals of achieving universal access to broadband much faster.
“To this end, we have invited nominees to serve on the ICT policy panel of experts, a group that will work with the department to provide for policy recommendations.”
Pule was speaking at the inaugural ICT Indaba in Cape Town.
She said ICT was central to the country's development, with internet alone directly contributing about two percent to economic output.
Over six million citizens had access to the internet, with much of this attributed to a growth in mobile broadband access on smartphones.
The minister said the country was using ICT to pull itself out of obscurity.
“South Africa's information technology sector is a leader in the fields of electronic banking services, pre-payment, revenue management and fraud prevention systems, and in the manufacture of set-top boxes (STBs).
“All of these technologies are successfully exported to Africa and the rest of the world.”
She said the local manufacturing of set-top boxes would enhance the country's leadership position in technology and create many jobs across the continent as “factories go up to manufacture the boxes”.
The STBs would be needed to receive a digital signal on old-style analogue broadcast television sets. Digital migration was expected to be completed by June 2015.
The Democratic Alliance had previously criticised the department for insisting on the local creation of STBs as it was apparently cheaper to import them.
DA MP Marian Shinn said in March that it was highly unlikely that the deadline for a digital switchover would be met if government remained committed to local manufacturing.
“Within a few years most South Africans will likely have bought digital televisions, and sales of analogue sets for which STBs are necessary will cease,” Shinn said.
Pule also made mention of the pay TV market, saying that she would monitor its progress to ensure diverse broadcasting services were accessible to all citizens. - Sapa