Johannesburg - The National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has welcomed the planned inquiry into competition in the data market.
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel is to establishing the inquiry and its terms of reference must be in place by September 1, Nehawu said in a statement on Saturday.
"South African data costs are among the highest in the world and this does not bode well for the working class and the poor. The exorbitant fees needed to communicate disadvantages almost the entire population, more especially workers and the youth. Learners in high school and university students struggle to access the internet for school work because of the current prices of data," the union said.
In an age where everything was almost digital, job seekers were hugely affected when they had to apply for positions. This also did not bode well for economic growth and "directly adds into the number of people who are unemployed".
"If our country is serious about growing the economy then issues of data costs and the cost to communicate must be looked into as a matter of urgency.
"We hope that the investigation by the Competition Commission into data costs will reveal those who are responsible for overcharging for data costs. We also hope that the commission will leave no stone unturned in harshly prosecuting those who are responsible. We urge our government to ensure that research is conducted into how data costs can be reduced and put measures in place to safeguard our rights as citizen to communicate with each other and at reasonable prices."
Nehawu would watch this process very closely and see to it that yielded results. Last year, parliament asked network operators to lower data costs and threatened them should they fail to do so.
Months down the line data costs were still high and the time of "empty rhetoric" had to come to an end. Government had to act on behalf of the people to lower the prices to enable citizens to communicate among themselves, Nehawu said.
African News Agency