Progress being made in implementing ICT policy

Pretoria - Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele on Friday held a consultation meeting with the ICT sector regarding progress being made in the implementation of the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper.

"We are making progress towards implementing the new ICT policy. Our preference for consultation is yielding the desired results because we are edging closer to an agreement on how best we can speedily implement this very important policy," said Minister Cwele.

The meeting was attended by several stakeholders representing government and people with disabilities, among others. It took place against the backdrop of government's approach to involve all role players in the restructuring of the sector.

The White Paper introduces the establishment of capacity to measure and interpret ICT statistics to track the progress the country is making towards creating a knowledge and information society.

There is also focus on ensuring that ICT infrastructure and services are universally accessible and affordable to all citizens, especially people with disabilities.

Delegates supported the introduction of the Wholesale Open Access Network and made presentations on how it can be implemented.

Some of the proposals made include:

Urgent implementation of Rapid Deployment Policy to enable a speedy deployment and rollout of infrastructure in municipalities;

Diversity of ownership with the introduction of SMMEs and black owned enterprises throughout the value chain;

Increased competition; and

Explore opportunities for local and international funding, among others.

The meeting also discussed facilitating transformation and SMME development through procurement. Those attending the meeting proposed that a minimum of 30% of government ICT spend should be set aside for BBBEE Level 1 companies in year one, increasing to 40% in year two and 51% in year three.

The proposal is for these procurement targets to be applicable to state-owned companies as well.

Among the many other proposals made was one to establish a framework to ensure or promote recognition of prior learning, experiential and workplace based skills and for all ICT skills development organisations to collaborate and avoid duplication and gaps.

Minister Cwele welcomed the deliberations.

"As South Africans, we have demonstrated that we can achieve great things when we work together. We encourage our big and small companies to innovate to ensure their sustainability," said the Minister.

The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services will process all the inputs as they develop the implementation plan of the White Paper before submitting it to Cabinet.

The department will also identify areas where further discussions are required. The aim is to finalise the implementation plan by the end of March 2017 and start implementing aspects of the policy that do not require legislative changes soon thereafter.

Source: South African Government News Agency.

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