Parliament's committee welcomes Icasa's intention to auction temporary broadband spectrum
Cape Town - Parliament's communications portfolio committee has welcomed the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's (Icasa) intention to auction off the current temporary broadband spectrum in December 2020.
In a statement following Icasa's briefing to the committee on its annual performance plan (APP) and budget for 2020/21, committee chairman Boyce Maneli said the temporary free spectrum released in the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic would be closed at the end of November.
Icasa's acting chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng told the committee Icasa believes it would get attractive offers from bidding companies, because those companies would "have experienced open spectrum".
Icasa presented five outcomes for the medium-term strategic framework, namely increased access to quality broadband services, enhanced status of social cohesion, protected consumer rights, promoted competition in the information communications technology (ICT) sector, and maintained organisational service delivery, Maneli said.
Icasa also presented an estimated budget of R495-million for the current financial year. The committee, "having acknowledged that the budget is insufficient", encouraged Icasa to find cost effective ways to deliver on its programmes, he said.
On Friday, the committee was briefed on the APPs and budgets of the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), Universal Services Access Agency of South Africa (Usaasa), and the Universal Services Access Fund (Usaf). Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Pinky Kekana said Sita and Usaasa were placed under administration in December 2019, and were earmarked for "organisational repurposing".
On Thursday, the committee was briefed by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and the South African Post Office (Sapo) on their APPs and budgets, Maneli said.
The committee told the ministry to move with speed in filling vacant positions on the post office board in order to restore governance stability. "Furthermore, the committee encouraged the post office to invest in upskilling and reskilling its workforce in order to prepare it for the planned shift to e-commerce. The post office was also advised to consider working closely with the registered spaza shops in order to retain its national footprint and competitive advantage."
The committee commended the good work being done by the GCIS to communicate government's message on Covid-19. It also appreciated the commitment by the GCIS to clean governance, "even in the middle of the national state of disaster".
“We are aware of the budget constraints facing the GCIS, but your work speaks volumes. We appreciate that you are in touch with the National Treasury with a view of resolving this matter,” Maneli said.
African News Agency (ANA), editing by Jacques Keet